If you’re in charge of writing the next safety message or choosing a safety slogan for your company’s safety initiatives, you know that you’ve got a challenge ahead of you. After all, most safety slogans become invisible and ineffective pretty quickly.
Only create a safety message that is part of a workplace safety campaign where people receive training to change their behaviour. Otherwise. putting a poster on the wall with a new slogan is as helpful as putting a sticker on your car that says “Baby on board”. No-one will pay much attention (or really care!).
To ensure your safety message is sticky, here are five important tips:
1. Use positive language – Avoid creating a slogan that focuses on behaviour that you don’t want. Instead, write a safety message that conveys what you want people to do. For example a negative slogan for height safety is “Don’t fall for it”. Using more positive language, a more appropriate version is “A harness is better than a hearse”. While this might have negative connotations, it still focuses on what you want the person to do, rather than the wrong behaviour.
2. Keep it short (and tweet) – In this age of Twitter, being able to write in 140 characters or less helps you to distill your message. It’s the same with writing a safety message, just try and encapsulate it in 12 words or less.
3. Avoid jargon – Make sure the sentence flows easily. Avoid acronyms and words that not everyone will understand (use the test: will my mum get this one?).
4. Contain a surprise – Common sense is the enemy of sticky safety messages. When our brain’s guessing machine fails, it wants to work out why it was unable to guess. This surprise grabs our attention, so that we can be prepared in the future. By trying to work out what went wrong, our brain is more likely to remember the information.
Here’s a good example (a personal fave): Hug your kids at home, but belt them in the car.
Slogans that contain the obvious will be ignored
Examples are: “Play it safe” and “Be aware, take care”. Yawn!
5. Play on words – A clever play on words helps to make your safety message just that little bit more memorable. This can include rhyming and repeating words in a different order. Adding a little bit of fun can make a serious subject more approachable.
Is better to lose one minute in life… than to lose life in a minute.
Know safety, no injury. No safety, know injury
Lifting’s a breeze when you bend at the knees
Once you have created you safety slogan and trained people on the new behaviour that is required, regularly remind staff of the safety message in toolbox meetings and email newsletters etc. The more people frequently see it, the more it will get remembered.
Here are some more catchy slogans that are memorable:
While on a ladder, never step back to admire your work
10 fingers, 10 toes 2 eyes 1 nose… safety counts
Knock out… accidents
Shortcuts cut life short
Keep safety in mind. It will save your behind.
A spill, a slip, a hospital trip
Safety glasses: All in favor say “Eye!”
If you mess up, ‘fess up
Behind the wheel, anger is one letter away from danger.
Chance takers are accident makers
Housekeeping you skip may cause a fall or slip.
It’s easier to ask a dumb question than it is to fix a dumb mistake
Make it your mission, not to live in unsafe condition.
Safety comes in a can, I can, You can, We can be safe.
Safety fits like a glove; Try one on.
Safety is a full time job – don’t make it a part time practice
Safety rules are your best tools.
Think smart before you start.