Why do you promise to work safe?
Ontario’s workforce presents many different challenges for health and safety training and communications, from the size of the labour market, to differences between the many industry sectors, including a variety of business models and an extensive and diverse culture.
When any health and safety association, such as IHSA, is faced with those challenges, it would certainly be thankful that construction accounts for only 7% of employment in the province. However, if you consider that anywhere from 25% to 30% of fatalities every year occur in construction, those same challenges become opportunities to save lives.
In the late 1970s the Construction Safety Association of Ontario (CSAO) recognized this opportunity and produced a series of public service announcements for television.
The short commercial spots each featured a hazard in the industry. They revealed the gruesome results of a lack of knowledge in construction workplaces and shone a spotlight on specific dangerous tasks. To watch them today you would probably think they were cheesy and dated, but in their time they were so shocking they grabbed the viewers’ attention and then presented the tagline “We’ve got it. Let’s use it.”
The catch phrase made the point that in Ontario we have construction training available, as well as a health and safety association that can deliver that training. As time passed, viewers became desensitized, the shock value of the ads diminished, and the CSAO saw the campaign slowly lose momentum over the years.
With the ever changing landscape of Ontario cities, as well as the legislative demands on the construction sector of today, it’s all the more important for workers and employers to know where to get the training which will ensure that health and safety is a priority in the workplace.
In 2010, after an amalgamation of the many occupational health and safety associations in Ontario, IHSA became the new leader and facilitator of training for high-risk workplaces. Its mandate is to serve the construction, transportation, electrical and utility, and aggregate sectors. Not only did the amalgamation significantly increase those initial challenges, but it also created another problem. With the loss of the CSAO brand, the province’s extensive health and safety resources for construction would be useless if nobody knew where to find them.
So began the branding strategy by which the IHSA set out to inform the construction sector that their health and safety support system and key training provider were still readily available to them. In 2016 IHSA began an advertising campaign on the TTC entitled “Keep Your Promise” (KYP). As the busiest transit system in downtown Toronto, the TTC offers the type of exposure IHSA was looking for, so this was a way to reach workers during their commute.
Once it was determined what the busiest routes were, IHSA posted interior ads in both modes of transit (subway and buses) along those routes. This ensured that each commuter would see the same message many times on his or her daily commute. The KYP ads were also placed in a large number of hockey arenas across Ontario. There the purpose was to
inform not just the workers, but their families as well.
Data from a quarterly pilot program revealed that employers and workers were noticing the ads and responding favourably. For that reason the campaign was continued for the rest of 2016 with an added bonus—the TTC planned to add two new hybrid buses to its downtown fleet, and IHSA was given the opportunity to wrap its ads around their exteriors. With the addition of the bus wraps came further positive reaction from the construction industry, and the website data showed that IHSA had doubled its audience from three million users in 2015 to six million over the course of the campaign.
The end goal of the KYP campaign was to get families involved in the conversation about workplace health and safety since everyone wants to see their loved ones come home safe at the end of the day. A secondary goal was to let the workers within those families know where they could go to for information about occupational health and safety.
In the four decades that have passed since the time of those old TV spots, the construction sector has changed dramatically, but surprisingly the content of those 1970s videos is still very relevant today. With campaigns like the Keep Your Promise advertisements, the public’s awareness of IHSA’s responsibilities to the construction industry is growing significantly. And with the continuous development of training programs, as well as investment by IHSA in affiliated training partners, the old catch phrase is more pertinent than ever.
Call us for your FREE COPY of IHSA’s Safety Talks at 1-800-263-5024 or visit us at ihsa.ca to download a copy.
Visit ihsa.ca/training today and find a course in your community.