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What Makes a Great Health & Safety Film?

Keeping each other safe is a key duty for any company or organisation, and since the outbreak of Covid-19, Health & Safety measures have taken on a renewed focus for all of us. It’s added a new lens to how we keep each other safe – but it’s not the only one we need to account for in our daily working lives.

 

Identifying Risks

Responsible approaches to Health & Safety are vital to the successful running of any organisation. Whether you work in an open-plan office or an industrial site, there can be a range of different risks and hazards to account for.

 

Like Covid-19, some are general; an unfortunate part of day-to-day life that require general precautions whether at work or at home. On the other hand, some risks and hazards are specific to the work environment and so need specific attention drawn to them.

 

Challenging Perceptions

There’s no doubt that these risks exist, but there’s the matter of how they’re perceived by the various audiences. ‘Health & Safety’ has sometimes been considered a catchphrase for overzealousness, overreach, making a fuss etc., but the simple fact is that the introduction of appropriate HSSE measures across all walks of life, from heavy industry to healthcare, has saved countless lives over the last century.

It can probably be said that many now take this situation for granted and forget the journey that led us to this point of minimised risk – and the tragic outcomes that have become a rarity.

 

Any HSSE expert worth their salt will tell you just how wide-reaching sufficient Health & Safety measures can be depending on the working environment and the activities in question.

Given the range and breadth of the different risks and countermeasures in question, it can be a complex task for any organisation to engage their people effectively around the importance of Health & Safety through traditional means – and that’s where we come in.

 

Delivering Change through Film

You could say we’re evangelists for the power of film, particularly when it comes to changing minds and behaviour around important subjects – and we don’t think there are many more important subjects than keeping each other safe.

Film is a fantastic medium for delivering vital messages of all kinds but it’s an especially effective tool when it comes to successful communication of vital Health & Safety information.

We’ve spent over 3 decades building up a significant body of award-winning work in delivering effective HSSE communications, as well as developing the expertise to match, so we feel we can speak from a position of authority on the subject!

 

Our Process

So how do we make Health & Safety films that deliver tangible change?

The first step is to understand the nuances of the target audience and their context. Whether you’re a new client or an established one, it’s important for us to understand the organisation, the people who work there, and any internal/external narratives at play. There can be as much divergence as overlap between any two demographics, so what works for one group may not have the same impact as for another.

Once we’ve identified the key characteristics of the target audience, it’s about having the know-how to cut-through the noise – and we see this as our speciality.

 

This specialisation comes from our deep understanding of the Psychology of Film. You can read about this in greater depth by clicking here but in broad terms, the key is to tell a story that provokes emotion and encourages change in the audience.

Stories, in all their forms, are crucial to how we experience and interpret the world around us – and telling emotive stories through imagery is one of the most effective means to impart learning and vital messages.

When it comes to Health & Safety, the risks are often serious, so there’s great scope to bring in emotive storytelling – because the stakes can be as high as it’s possible to be.

We’re going to explore a few of our films through the lens of these processes; the different questions that needed to be asked, the different solutions we provided to meet the challenge – and the positive changes we helped to deliver…

 

Who are you going to stay safe for?

In our experience, the classic Health & Safety film takes the form of a short dramatic recreation showing a major accident and its tragic outcome, whether fatal or life-changing for the main characters involved.

As we’ll show later, we’re firm advocates of this approach, but we’re also always looking for different ways of doing things, whether it’s inverting that idea or moving into different territory – and some of our work with UK Power Networks is a great example of this.

 

We’ve fostered a successful, ongoing partnership with UKPN over many years, and when they recognised the need for a new Health & Safety film that would feel different to previous campaigns, we were ideally placed to rise to the challenge.

Many of their previous films followed the classic format of presenting the direct consequences of failing to follow safety regulations, so we decided that we had an opportunity to switch the tables and show another side to these consequences.

As we’ve discussed above, emotion is one of the most powerful drivers for learning and associated behavioural change. When it comes to emotional motivators, there are few more drivers than realising how your actions – or your failure to act properly – can have a terrible impact on your loved ones in life-changing ways.

Using this as the creative hook, our film shows the audience those people who can get left behind in the wake of tragic incidents, with the film asking a simple yet powerful question:

Who are you going to stay safe for?

The film was unanimously well-received by the client, with UKPN’s senior management claiming it’s ‘the best film they’ve seen in years’, and it went on to receive a Silver award at the EVCOM London Films Awards.

 

How do you stop young people from taking risks on the railway?

In 2018, 16 y/o Tegan found herself on the wrong platform at Bournemouth Station. Unaware of the dangers, she attempted to cross the tracks and stood on the third rail. She was severely electrocuted, suffering horrific burns and going into cardiac arrest for 7 minutes before being revived due to the efforts of station staff. Tegan has since undergone extensive surgery and therapy to re-learn how to talk, eat, and walk again.

Sadly, Tegan’s story is not uncommon. Since 2014, cases of trespassing on British railways have been on the increase with teenagers counted amongst the most regular offenders.

Network Rail wanted to use Tegan’s story as a central part of their You vs Train campaign, highlighting the life-threatening dangers of the rail network and deter other teenagers from taking the same risk.

 

Due to our longstanding filmmaking partnership, NR approached us to deliver the right film, trusting us to treat the subject matter with the gravity and sensitivity it needed.

During pre-production, we decided that a documentary-style piece centred on Tegan herself was the most effective course of action. As she progressed with her recovery, Tegan was determined to help play a part in the campaign. As the film needed to speak to young people like Tegan, we were in no doubt that having her tell her story in her own words would be far more potent than any dramatic recreation we could have conceived.

Our production team worked closely with Tegan, her mother, and station staff who were involved on the day of the accident. Given the traumatic nature of the incident, especially for Tegan, we wanted to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible so we could help each person talk about their experiences in a way that would connect with other young people – and discourage them from making the same terrible mistake that Tegan did.

Upon its release, the film received widespread coverage across national and local news outlets including the BBC and ITV. It was also a key part of Network Rail’s campaign roll-out, including partnerships with AFC Bournemouth, Southampton, and Portsmouth Football Clubs so they could reach over 30,000 children in the Wessex region.

It subsequently went on to win a Gold award at the New York Festivals Film & TV Awards as well as Silver and Bronze awards at the EVCOM London Film Awards.

‘Tegan’s Story’ is a film that’s a great source of pride to everyone who was involved. As Tegan’s mother said on the final day of editing:

This is so much more powerful than we ever imagined it could be, and we are so happy with how it has turned out. It has completely exceeded our expectations.’

 

How do you fly safely in the era of Covid-19?

 

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, major changes have been made around the world across all walks of life to adapt to new ways of living and working. The air travel sector has been acutely affected, including new protocols to ensure safe travel for passengers and safe working conditions for air crew and airport staff.

Ahead of reopening to the public in 2020 following the first major lockdown across the UK, Heathrow Airport had been undergoing extensive preparation and alternations ahead of the return of passengers. New safety measures were introduced to help passengers and colleagues alike comply with UK government guidelines and keep everyone as safe as possible, and we were approached to develop content that would help showcase these changes to the different audiences.

Filmed with strict social distancing and safety procedures in place, we worked closely with Heathrow to bring the new measures to life. We opted for a simple format that harnesses the ability of film to present vital information in a clear and engaging manner, capturing all the different changes and scenarios that have been developed to provide a safe environment for everyone within Heathrow, whether travelling or working.

The main film sits on Heathrow’s website as well as other online channels, with a range of cutdowns and alternative language versions made available across the organisation.

 

How do you protect your data and privacy online?

 

With the continuous advance of technology in the internet age, data has fast become one of the world’s most vital commodities, making data protection and online safety vital to the success of any and every organisation around the world. Any weakness in a company’s network can be exploited by malicious parties to steal information for any number of harmful purposes, as can be seen by occurrences of major data breaches in recent years.

Pinn specialises in personal data protection by combining human algorithms and user data to create smart, unbreakable protection for computers, mobile devices et al. They approached us to create a film that would help launch them into the market, marking them out from the competition and explain their offering to both business and consumer customers alike.

Giving the nature of Pinn’s business, we chose an innovative animated style to immerse the viewer in a visual world that felt highly sophisticated – at the bleeding edge of technology.

The animation provides the film’s visual momentum whilst the narrative is led by a voiceover script that explains Pinn’s offering in a clear, concise manner, highlighting the various risks at play and emphasising the importance of sufficient data protection policies and procedures.

‘Identity’ is a great example of a film that explores risks of a less overt but no less important kind, and how we’re able to use a different creative to meet the challenge and drive home important ideas. We’re very proud that it picked up numerous awards at major global film festivals including the coveted Black Dolphin Award for its communication effectiveness and sleek animation.

 

How drama can drive home vital Health & Safety warnings

As noted above, the classic drama approach is a very effective tool in any Health & Safety campaign – and we wanted to round off this discussion with one of our most successful HSSE films in recent times.

Energy Networks Association (ENA) represents the ‘wires and pipes’ transmission and distribution network operators for gas and electricity in the UK and Ireland. Given the nature of ENA’s work, there are many risks for ENA people to be aware of, but there are also risks to members of the public given the nature and location of certain parts of the infrastructure across the islands.

ENA asked us to develop a film that would support a major campaign to raise awareness of the potential risks and dangers of working near to overhead powerlines – because contact with overhead powerlines happens too often.

 

We opted for the dramatic approach due to its familiar format as it would likely have the widest impact across such a broad and varied audience.

Whilst most of us understand the general dangers posed by such powerlines, the film needed to demonstrate just how dangerous even the slightest touch of a live line can be. Overhead powerlines are often located alongside road networks and agricultural land, and we needed the film to hit home people from different walks of life and remind them to ‘look out, look up’.

The film has since been distributed across all nationwide electricity network areas across the UK, playing across many different at a series of safety events run by member companies within their local regions as well as being seeded across a wide range of online channels including ENA’s campaign website.

We’re incredibly proud of the film and the impact it continues to have in supporting ENA’s efforts to keep people safe, and that it was recognised with a prestigious Gold award at the EVCOM London Film Awards in the Health & Safety category.

 

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As a world-leading business film production company, we’re here to help bring your ideas to life to support your Health & Safety campaign.

Whether it’s a centrepiece drama film or content to drive a major learning initiative, we’d love to talk to you about your Health & Safety film needs, and help you bring them to life – get in touch today.

 

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