Not Safe For Work–NSFW

Not Safe For Work – NSFW – NS4W

NSFWNot sure where I have been (or what websites I have been surfing) but today I learnt a new acronym – NSFW – Not Safe/Suitable For Work and I would really like to start a discussion about how this is determined and examples of the application of the definition gone mad or used for evil!

Before you reach for the mouse and close this page down, I can assure you that this article is safe for work – at least at most workplaces.

Work Accident Photos

One of our readers emailed me directly (too scared to post a comment) and asked: “I was wondering if there were any laws governing the display of photos showing graphic injury images at the workplace. Would I need to post a disclaimer or something. I ask because the disclaimer would not be the first thing noticed if I post a photo on a wall at work of someone who has a nail in their eye for not using safety glasses”.

I didn’t have much time to think about and sent off a quick reply: “That depends – a disclaimer wont save you if you have done something negligent. Why not ask the people who work there first if they would be offended by that”. If anyone has a better response then please post it in the comments below. I know Rob Long would probably say that these pictures should never be used in the workplace as they may prime the wrong kind of thinking and behaviour but our page Gory Work Accident Photos is our 5th most popular page with about 2000 views per day!!!!

ADDENDUM: Rob Long has responded with this excellent advice:

Dave, there are several concerns with graphic photos:

1. we become desensitized to them over time because they are used to sensationalize rather than educate
2. research shows that the effect of such photos is very short lived and creates a sense of cognitive dissonance about event causation and expertise
3. they promote a voyeurism of tragedy
4. they serve as lazy tools for safety trainers who like to think that such photos are ‘powerful’ training props, when in fact they take little consideration of the psychological affect of such tools
5. they can be easily doctored in Photoshop and most people are not discerning about fake pics and,
6. the priming involved in such photos seems to promote a kind of ‘this won’t happen to me’ syndrome ‘because I have common sense’ way of thinking.
7. it would be nice to think that risk and safety people could be a bit more sophisticated about their stuff than using this approach
8. the use of such pics give power to the trainer who assumes the role of shock merchant but not thinking merchant
9. the context of safety training should be relevant and contextual to the participant, if the pics are disconnected from their real world then they are are of very limited value

I never use such photos in training.

Explicit Pictures

I tried to find a definition or guidance on what is or isn’t NSFW, not an easy task, Google had no trouble spitting out heaps of sites that are definitely NSFW and it is a good thing I am my own boss! I did find a useful article: How to Delicately Approach “Not Safe For Work” Sites with Employees which provides some useful advice:

What makes the situation difficult is the aforementioned subjectivity of what, exactly, constitutes NSFW. A site that you think is perfectly innocuous might be highly offensive to someone else in the office. If this is the case, the first thing you should do is not talk to the person looking at the offending material but the person who finds it offensive.

The most plausible definition of NSFW was on Wikipedia who say:

Not suitable/safe for work (NSFW) is Internet slang or shorthand. Typically, the NSFW tag is used in e-mail, videos, and on interactive discussion areas (such as Internet forums, blogs, or community websites) to mark URLs or hyperlinks which contain material such as nudity, pornography or profanity, which the viewer may not want to be seen accessing in a public or formal setting such as at work. Determining a site to be NSFW is invariably subjective, and poses challenges for academics who study sexuality. The difficulty in identifying such content objectively has led to the creation of online tools to help individuals to identify NSFW content:

So, as I thought, it is subjective and will probably vary from workplace to workplace. There has definitely been a change in what is considered acceptable in the workplace and you definitely wont find any of the sexy calendars or pictures that adorned many workplaces more than a decade ago – there are a few left but! Just saying, our 6th most popular page is: Safety Can Be SexyThis page is probably NSFW

If you really have no idea what is appropriate or Worksafe there is a website  where you can safety enter a web address without getting the attention of the IT Dept Geeks (I remember having to research a groin area injury and associated sexual dysfunction claim and quickly had a “please explain” come down from IT and HR LOL). The site as you to scroll down as the page is slowly displayed in micro-scale and you can decide if there are any naughty bits or big words.

I think it may be more useful to checkout the details in your employers sexual harassment and internet usage policies for definitive answer as to what is acceptable.

Other stuff supposedly unsafe for workplaces

But what about stuff, that doesn’t involve naked bits, injured body parts or four letter words, and is still considered unsafe these days for work but perfectly acceptable at home? Things like:

  1. Radios, toasters, microwaves and other appliances that cant be brought to work or must be tested and tagged
  2. Some workplaces ban photos of family and friends on desks
  3. I know plenty of Health and Safety and Risk Professionals who partake privately in high risk pursuits such as skydiving, contact sport, motorbikes, mountain climbing etc and yet are so Risk Averse when it comes to the behaviour of individuals, creativity and procedures at work???? How would they react if there were similar constraints imposed in their chosen leisure activities???

Perhaps have a read of this before you go:

So, any examples of where NSFW has been misinterpreted or overly enforced?

Do you have any thoughts? Please share them below