Washington State Airs Safety Ads Emphasizing 'Homecomings'

Washington State's Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), in partnership with four business and labor organizations, is in the midst of airing an advertising campaign to raise awareness about the importance of workplace safety in the state. Television, radio, and Internet ads in Western Washington currently are spreading the message that the most important reason for making your workplace safe is not at work at all. Instead, workplace safety is important as a means of sustaining relationships with family and friends outside the workplace.

The centerpiece ad, called "Homecomings," shows people coming home from work to their loved ones, juxtaposed against one boy who is worried that his dad isn’t home from work yet. The ad concludes with a reminder that, on average, two people die every week in Washington from on-the-job injuries and illnesses. The ads call attention to WorkSafe.Lni.wa.gov and resources for making workplaces safer.

Co-sponsoring the ad campaign are the Association of Washington Business, the Washington State Labor Council, Associated General Contractors, and the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council.

“Running this campaign now is particularly important because there are significant risks to workplace safety during an economic recession,” said L&I Director Judy Schurke. She noted that businesses may be tempted to cut corners on workplace safety when times are tight, and employees worried about having no other job options may not speak up about unsafe conditions. Also, employees may be fatigued from additional workloads or may be doing unfamiliar tasks, making them more prone to injury.

“These ads are particularly effective at bringing home the importance of safety in the workplace and the effects it can have on so many people,” said Don Brunell, president of the Association of Washington Business. “When an accident happens at work, it affects everyone--family, friends and co-workers.”

L&I purchased licensing rights to an award-winning workplace-safety campaign developed in Australia, saving creative and development costs. The ads were repurposed for Washington residents, including voice-overs to eliminate the Australian accent.

According to L&I, surveys in Australia showed that about 85 percent of viewers thought the ads were quite or very effective. Also, 24 percent of employers and 18 percent of employees said they had personally taken action as a result of the campaign. This was considered a very strong result in a low-interest category such as occupational safety and health, said the department, which purchased about $450,000 in TV and radio airtime and Internet space. The money comes from dedicated worker's compensation funds, which can’t be used for purposes other than worker's comp and workplace safety. L&I notes that preventing one workplace injury that turns into a long-term pension could pay for the cost of the campaign. Currently, L&I has 3,964 claims with costs for each that are more than $450,000.

The ads began running in May and will continue throughout June, and again in September and October, with some radio advertising also airing in July and August.

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