Let the cameras roll

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Video is one of the most effective ways of providing a safety induction and training, and interactive elements like quizzes and decision-making choices can reinforce learning and knowledge retention.

The most frequently requested type of project for our video production company is the creation of occupational health and safety videos. As award-winning experts in this space, we at Shot Blast Media have learnt quite a few things from designing these video productions and animations for a variety of different businesses across the world.

The main point is that a business cannot put a price on safety. The organisation’s workers must come first, and, if staff do not understand how to ensure both their physical and mental health at work, they should not be allowed on site.

During 2022–23, 561,000 working people sustained an injury at work and 875,000 workers suffered with work-related stress, depression or anxiety in Great Britain, according to HSE statistics. These figures illustrate the vital importance of prioritising the health and safety of employees, contractors and visitors to ensure the success of the business.

"Health and safety induction videos are an incredibly popular communication tool among our customer base." Photograph: Shot Blast Media

But how can an employer achieve this? Well, a good place to start is to create and use a safety training video that is engaging, memorable and specific to the organisation’s line of work. A comprehensive video training programme (such as an induction video), can support an employer’s efforts to create and maintain a safe working environment by teaching workers and site visitors about the hazards they will encounter, the safe working practices and procedures to follow, and the organisation’s expectations in terms of safe behaviour, known as the ‘safety culture’.

Safety training videos can cover a variety of topics, such as hazard identification, emergency procedures, the correct use of equipment, and best practices for specific tasks.

Unlike traditional training methods – such as handing out written manuals or delivering verbal or ‘slide-based’ presentations – videos can effectively illustrate potential hazards, correct working procedures and emergency protocols. The visual aspect of film and animation enhances comprehension and knowledge retention among viewers, leading to better adherence to safety guidelines, which of course is crucial.

Also, when companies rely on traditional methods of training, key messages can often be forgotten or missed, and this creates ambiguity and inconsistency. However, with video the employer has peace of mind that all bases have been covered, creating consistency in messaging and reducing the risk of any misinterpretation.

An effective health and safety video can also contribute to cost savings for a business in the long run. This is because using a well-designed video to deliver effective training can reduce the risk of accidents, injuries, and equipment and property damage arising from poor understanding of hazards and risks.

In turn, this will help to avoid expensive insurance claims, higher future insurance premiums and productivity losses due to business interruption that are an inevitable consequence of accidents and incidents.

Also, by investing in ongoing education delivered through video-based training, a business can demonstrate its commitment to employee health, safety and wellbeing, comply with its legal duty to provide suitable safety training to workers, and minimise the stress and anxiety that inevitably arise in the event of accidents, near misses and injuries at work.

"Our first tip is to think about the narrative and key messages that the video needs to provide." Photograph: Shot Blast Media

This is important because it is estimated that the total cost to Great Britain of workplace injuries and new cases of work-related ill health stood at around £20.7 billion in 2021/222.

Induction videos

Health and safety induction videos are an incredibly popular communication tool among our customer base. In essence, an induction video provides key information to new employees, contractors and visitors on the safe working procedures to follow. In fact, it is crucial – and a legal requirement – that all new starters are provided with a suitable and sufficient health and safety induction, covering areas such as the risks and dangers and how to avoid and mitigate them.

An induction should also cover the emergency and fire procedures in place and for some workers, will also set out the steps they must follow when undertaking specific tasks, such as rules on safe working at height or process safety procedures on hazardous industrial sites.

Video is an ideal tool for delivering a safety induction, especially if the viewing of the video by the individual (such as on a computer, tablet or mobile device) is combined and connected to a computer or cloud-based learning management system (LMS).

Integrating the induction video into an LMS allows the employer to quickly and automatically check that workers have watched the video and have therefore completed the training. If the video is integrated with the employer’s LMS – or forms part of an e-learning video or e-learning course – interactive questions and quizzes can be used throughout and at the end of the video to check workers’ understanding of the information they have watched and listened to.

Even if an employer does not have their own LMS, videos can be hosted on the company’s website or intranet in an area that is only accessible by staff. A video-based safety induction can also result in time and cost savings, since it is almost always quicker and easier to deliver the information via a video link or a video within an LMS system than organising and delivering a face-to-face induction.

Safety videos commonly provide learning points based on incidents that have actually happened in the company or industry's day-to-day work. Photograph: Shot Blast Media

Tips on producing a video

As a leading producer of videos for industry, we have a few top tips that we use in order to produce the most logical and effective safety training videos for our clients.

Our first tip is to think about the narrative and key messages that the video needs to provide. It is crucial to draft and develop a clear, concise and engaging script that sets out and presents the key points workers need to take from the video.

There are also a variety of ways of delivering the information, such as using voiceover, on-screen text, or simply visuals, so it’s important to consider what form of presentation will best suit the message to be conveyed and the audience. If using a voiceover, it is essential that it is easy to understand.

For example, for a significant number of site workers in certain industries, English is not their first language so it may be necessary to keep the messaging simple or the voiceover may need to be delivered in a language to suit the workers’ nationalities.

It may also be necessary to ensure the information can be understood by people with disabilities – such as including a sign language interpreter for people with hearing difficulties. The crucial point to remember is that everyone working for the business needs to understand the health and safety rules, so the video presentation format needs to be inclusive and suitable for all.

Graphics and animations can also be used to make the information being presented more distinct, colourful and intriguing, increasing the viewer’s stimulation, concentration and therefore knowledge retention. We also recommend providing a summary of the main safety points at the end so that all the risks and dangers that have been covered are clearly summarised in a final, quick reminder.

Using company branding, colours, logos and fonts can also reinforce the visual connection between the company and the safety behaviours it expects from staff. We recommend that a video is designed in a way that represents the business clearly and is personal to its staff and reflects the corporate culture.

2D or 3D animation can be used to create reconstructions of accidents. Photograph: Shot Blast Media

It is therefore crucial that the video is customised and tailored to the company’s specific risks and sets out exactly what is expected of staff, as this will make it clear to employees, contractors and other visitors that the business is serious about health and safety hazards in the workplace, and expects everyone to take them seriously.

Using real-life incidents

It is also common for safety videos to provide information and learning points based on incidents that have actually happened in the company’s (or industry’s) day-to-day work.  The idea is to remind other workers not to make the same mistakes and understand how to learn from the mistakes of others.

One way of doing this is to use dramatised footage where actors play out and reconstruct the circumstances of an accident in an engaging way. Also, 2D or 3D animation can be used to create reconstructions of accidents, and animation offers the bonus of allowing the animator to create any environment, character, process or scenario to convey a certain message, while ensuring no one is put at risk during filming.

A blend of 3D animated film, standard film and voiceover and/or a presenter can provide an in-depth account of an accident, without putting anyone at risk while filming a full reconstruction. Animation is also ideal for showing site structures and access points, and providing maps, layouts and directional information for areas like safe working zones.

One popular way of engaging the audience during a video is by using interactive elements. Interactive training videos are increasingly popular as they require the viewer to think about and interact with the information provided – for example, by answering a question. This boosts learning and knowledge retention because the individual is required carry out an action, rather than simply watch the film or animation.

An interactive video usually consists of two parts. The first is the content itself, which may be in the form of a live action video, animated video or simple animated slide format or a mixture. This part normally contains the learning points and educational material the employer wants the audience to follow and understand.

The second part features the interactive elements, where the user has clickable tasks and actions as a result of watching the video. For example, there may be things like hotspots where the user clicks in a certain area of the video to read or watch further material, questions where the user has to select an answer in a multiple-choice format, decision-making scenarios, simulations, and ‘branching’ narratives that allow viewers to make choices and see the consequences unfold in real-time.

Interactive videos allow for personalised learning experiences as viewers can navigate through different paths based on the choices they make or their knowledge levels. The learning path while interacting with the video can therefore differ depending on the interactive choices the user makes, and will ensure that each employee receives tailored training suited to their specific needs and level of understanding.

Interactive videos are highly engaging, and the interactive nature of answering questions and making decisions means users usually retain more information from the training.

Madeleine Goddard is marketing executive at Shot Blast Media

Real-life scenarios

This year, we’ve worked on an increasing number of health and safety videos for businesses across the world. One of our latest was a ‘live-action’ safety video for the international electricity generating company RWE, featuring real-life safety scenarios, including a hard-hitting accident in a workshop. The video featured both actors and real workers, and a professional special effects make-up artist created life-like wounds using prosthetics to bring home the consequences of the accident.

For this project, we worked closely with Gareth Colven, engineering lead at RWE, and we even managed to create a fantastic behind the scenes video from this shoot, which is available to view on our YouTube channel, to show businesses how to create realistic accident scenarios for their own video productions.

After the shoot, Gareth explained that while “developing the idea, we knew we wanted to make a video, but we weren’t sure exactly what we needed, so it was really easy via video calls and other communication methods to sit down with the team that we were going to use across the country and thrash that out and get a storyboard together quite quickly.

“In just over a month, we went from a position of just having a vague clue about what we wanted to do, to having something that’s really special and I’m going to be really proud of.”

In conclusion, producing and using a health and safety training video can be an indispensable tool for businesses seeking to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of their workers and workplaces. By leveraging the power of visual storytelling through videos, organisations can effectively communicate vital information related to workplace safety, while engaging employees in an interactive learning experience.

For more information see: shotblastmedia.co.uk
T. +44 (0)113 288 3245

Madeleine Goddard is marketing executive at Shot Blast Media


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