Make Your Safety Slogan Social

Make Your Safety Slogan Social

imageSafety is a profoundly social activity. We see this in the many slogans in safety that emphasize connections to family and loved ones as a reason for safety. However, we should chose slogans carefully.

One of the early slogans of the COVID19 pandemic was ‘we’re all in this together’. Unfortunately, when politicians hold secret gatherings and parties against their own advice we soon learn that the slogan is meaningless.

Slogans can be very powerful modes of bringing people together that is, if the slogan is a reflection of reality.

Slogans are lyrical, poetic forms of language that capture a concept in a phrase intended to have social and motivational appeal. As an element of culture slogans deserve their own attention ( ) when considering culture change.

When we understand culture semiotically ( ), we know that even the rhythm and rhyme of a slogan can have huge influence on a group/population, if it rings true.

Similarly, when a slogan becomes a symbol of hypocrisy and false ethic it can become enormously destructive ( ) promoting cynicism, scepticism and pessimism about safety. These three eat away at organizational culture and undo messages turning them into the target of joke and comedy.

One of the worst slogans in safety is ‘Safety First’, a silly hierarchy that is easily mocked the moment anything of value competes with it ( ). Setting up a hierarchy by slogan is always foolish and disguises and anti-social ethic. If we want to put safety in its right place then we need to ensure that all the competing values in an organisation are given balance. When the concrete is on its way to site every construction worker knows that safety is not first, concrete is first, money is first. The more one speaks ‘safety first’ on such a site, the more safety becomes a joke.

The ‘Safety First’ slogan is one of the most effective ways to undermine the value of safety. The ‘make safety personal’ slogan has a similar effect ( ).

I look at the list of safety slogans here  and many of them are counterproductive and unhelpful. What this shows is just how much Safety loves a useless slogan rather than speak sense to people.

Whenever one considers a slogan for our organization Socialitie ought to be considered.

When choosing a slogan like ‘safety is a choice you make’ or all accidents are preventable’ think of the by-products of that slogan. How will outcomes of that slogan affect people? (

If a slogan results in blame, hypocrisy, victimization, brutalism or scepticism/cynicism – get rid of it.

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