There’s nothing quite like a safety campaign that doesn’t consider what it communicates unconsciously through semiotics and messaging. This is classically displayed in the Mums for Safety campaign . It doesn’t matter how you ‘spin’ the framing and priming of this campaign its message promotes the opposite of what it seeks to uphold.
Of course in the world of compliance and binary opposition of safety the following criticism will be attributed as toxicity and negativity. The last thing one can do in safety is be critical of the sacred safety cow.
In order to understand critical thinking one needs to know about the nature of power and communication to the unconscious. The real power in communication is never the overt message but the covert message demonstrated in how one organises presentation and in semiotics (The Medium and the Message ).
It is always critical in communications and messaging to pay attention to what is said and NOT said and to focus on symbols and unconscious messaging. All messaging requires consideration of who and what is omitted in messaging and is just as important as what one might consider as ‘obvious’ in a direct message. Is the next campaign Dads for Safety? LGBTQI Safety?
In the Mum’s for Safety campaign it is clear that grown men and women can’t make effective decisions without the presence of their Mum. I can just imagine the steelfixers and formworkers on site giving the men in this video promotion a roasting should they walk on site. The campaign effectively makes these people a laughing stock, including the CEO who stands reprimanded by his mother because he can’t get something right. The hidden message in this campaign is that grown ups can’t make decisions without their mother around! Poor old David needs his mum to grab him by the scruff of the neck like a child and save him from harm. Poor old Tony needs Mum to help him from a falling object.
The whole messaging in this promotion is about childishness and co-dependence (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codependency ). Co-dependence is considered a mental health disorder when one person is dependent on another to remain in an immature state.
Even the stereotyping, military music and symbolism in the campaign is against any message of humanising a mature approach to risk and safety, where wisdom in decision making is made by grown adults who don’t need their mum around to tell them how to think.
There is really no surprise in this marketing in safety. It’s pretty much inline with other dumbs for safety campaigns like: Hazardman, the Bloody Idiot Safety Campaign, Zero Suicide, Dumb Ways to Die or the recent Safety Reset in Queensland or the Safety Gimp (https://safetyrisk.net/dumb-ways-to-improve-rail-safety/ ). Unless unconscious messaging is considered in what goes on you end up promoting safety through beasts (https://safetyrisk.net/dont-make-safety-a-habit/) and heroes (https://safetyrisk.net/i-have-the-power-im-a-safety-hero/) and all kinds of mumbo jumbo (https://safetyrisk.net/calculators-matrices-and-mumbo-jumbo-risk-assessment/) that detract from the simple message that risk and safety is an everyday ordinary activity that requires wisdom and maturity to effectively tackle risk.
Of course, when zero doesn’t work and it’s by products create an anti-safety culture one needs some new campaign or blitz to demonstrate just how immature Safety is.
Unfortunately, in the safety world any criticism of safety or deconstruction by critical thinking of safety is deemed an enemy of safety. When compliance is the god then debate is the devil. It seems like it’s easier to spend millions on this non-sense than actually tackling critical issues in risk and safety in the workplace. And, none of these campaigns work, even under consideration of safety data there is no benefit. The real outcome is that Safety once again appears childish and immature not able to grow up into the big broad mature world of being professional.