The Block isn’t portraying safety as it should be

Safety MonsterI’m not a big fan of “The Block”, no real reasons, just over it. For drama and ratings they do some pretty cringe worthy things. One of those things is their approach to safety, they have certainly played on people’s current disdain for the word “safety” but have not done anything to improve that perception. In last years series a few safety crusaders were on their high horses and fire up on LinkedIn , as they do, about the “serious safety breaches” which prompted this article by Rob Long: “Release the Safety Monster and ruin a Good TV Show”. SJ writes about the latest little safety as a suitable punishment initiative by “Safety Cam”, the crusaders probably thought he was awesome?:

The Block isn’t portraying safety as it should be

First published here:

imageI’ll have to start by admitting that I love watching The Block. The only downside is their opinion of and lack of the glaringly obvious – great health and safety!

The Block is a national popular TV show, with a wide reach. Any products that appear on the show immediately sell-out, the people involve are often able to fashion new careers out of their appearance on the show. So it would be a great place to spread a positive safety message.

Unfortunately that is not the case. Earlier this month Scotty Cam was interviewed on Sydney’s 2Day FM and said that the Block will not be coming back to Sydney any time soon.  Sydney Councils have fined them five times, for things like soil on the footpath and blocking pedestrian pathways to the public. Melbourne Councils haven’t fined them at all. It is not known which council did this but it was noted that the council took safety seriously.

So on one hand they say safety is important, with Scott Cam the presenter of the show even backing an initiative with Worksafe VIC in 2010 around musculoskeletal injuries, and he still dons the covers of the Tradie Safety guides; but on the other hand we see contestants drinking alcohol and then getting back on tools, extremely fatigued driving to the hardware store nearly falling asleep.

In recent seasons they introduced ‘Safety Cam’. When he first started appearing I was actually pleasantly surprised, as I did think it was a proactive step for The Block to highlight safety. But really, it has gone downhill from there.  Do you remember when the contestants bricked in a room with no access in or out and they were laughing saying “what do we do in a fire”?

Whenever The Block refers to safety, it is in a negative sense or as a punishment.

If Keith (The Block Foreman) is having a disagreement with a contestant his response is often “Well you’ve have to be re-inducted by Safety Cam”. The threat here is that they’ll have to sit through a ‘long and boring’ presentation.

It really bothers me that safety is seen as a punishment – most workplaces have moved on from this school of thought, why is The Block back in the 90s?

I’m not naïve, I understand that it’s a TV show and ratings are the name of the game, but it doesn’t stop me from putting on my cranky (steelcapped) boots and stomping around – or going on a rant on Facebook!

The most recent example that got my blood boiling was when Darren and Keith were having a stoush. Both were giving as good as they got, however because Darren swore at Keith, he cut his power. He then punished him further by forcing him to be re-inducted.

How can people take safety seriously when it’s used as a pawn to rule by fear? Safety Cam is the fun police and gives safety a bad name.  It’s unfortunate that ratings trumps safety.

Safety should be about positive reinforcement and shared responsibility. If you’d like help spreading a positive message of WHS in your workplace, please get in touch.

Image from The Block

Safety Nerd

Owner and Principal Consultant at Riskology
I’ve been in safety my whole career. Well nearly my whole career, I started off as a secretary for a recruitment company, then dabbled in HR whilst stumbling onto safety, which I fell head over heels ….literally in love (I know safety nerd alert) with safety after reading the book Lessons from Longford by Anthony Hopkins at the age of 19 and haven’t looked back since. I had a few friends that had been permanently injured in their early 20s and my Dad nearly lost his foot in a workplace accident when I was a twinkle in his eye and the Lessons from Longford book made so much sense to me. I started my life in safety knee high to a grasshopper working for Aristocrat in the 90’s, a gaming machine company in Sydney where I introduced national safety handbooks, alerts, industry focus groups and decided this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life; during this time I also headed off to Uni and completed an MBA specialising in industrial relations, the closest qualification at the time related to safety, since then there’s been an explosion of courses so I then got my teeth into a masters of safety. I then went onto a safety role at Coca Cola Amatil and tackled the logistics of ensuring multiple sites were compliant from call centres to sales to manufacturing workers. This was an interesting time when new manufacturing plants were opening and becoming fully automated, never a dull moment in the world of safety. I’m a bit of a car buff so then moved into a safety role at Inchcape, you know the guys that own Subaru. I was looking after the safety for 45 sites and came up with some great strategies to get them all confident and running with safety. After saving my employers in total over $1.5million in workers comp and setting up some great strategies I decided to jump ship and moved away from the big smoke for love. That was a couple of years ago now and that’s when Riskology was born. I love helping other businesses create safer workplaces helping them through the minefield of legislation with simple easy solutions with the end goal of making workplaces safer. The safety industry has changed significantly in recent years, with new legislation and tougher penalties. Small businesses are expected to comply just as much as large businesses, that’s where I come in, helping to bridge the gap and cut through the jargon. Safety doesn’t have to be the elephant in the room, good safety practices is good for business. Qualifications Master’s degree in Occupational Health and Safety Master’s degree in Business Industrial Relations Accredited Lead Auditor Graduate Certificate Health and Safety Management Systems Cert IV – Workplace Training, OHS, HR(and Dip), Secretarial

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