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How to make a safety video that does the job

How do you know if you need a new safety video?

Making a safety video production is no small task. You need to know where you need it. And when.

And if should you make the video yourself, or get someone else to do it for you?

Let’s start at the beginning.


Do safety training videos even work?

There’s a lot been said about the miraculous power of training video to promote better safety, arguments both for and against. And equally arguments rage over which type of video works best, and so on. Everyone seems to have an opinion about the most effective training video!

But one classic piece of BBC research from way back in the 1950s stands head & shoulders above the crowd. It’s this:

“When sight and sound are combined, ie, video, then information retention is almost doubled.”

Video works. Fact.

The real task is for the safety manager to recognise where a safety training video is needed

- and then decide how much time, effort and budget needs putting into it to develop effective video content that'll "do the job".


Are safety videos worth the time, effort and cost?

Safety videos are the proven effective training route for explaining health & safety procedures.

They hold the attention and can be delivered almost anywhere, viewable on desktop, laptop, tablet or any mobile device, from your website to social media to a learning centre full of new starter participants.

But since making any sort of corporate video production takes time, effort and budget

- you need to know which topic or topics to choose, and this isn't always as easy and obvious as you may think, especially if you're in a relatively hazardous industry.

Induction video is one of the commonest topics, as everybody has to be safety inducted.

Fortunately an off-the-shelf employee training video is available to cover many workplace situations, though not all

- which means not much time & effort are needed from you, compared to making a new video.

To help you analyse your requirement, I've developed a structured method for assessing these different options. Let's take a look.

Deciding the most urgent topic for a safety video

The Safety Video Triangle allows you to quickly determine your most urgent safety video topic from among a shopping list of video candidates you may have in mind.

The Safety Video Triangle lets you quickly see:

1: If, where and when you need a safety video

2: What type of safety video you may need to do the job, whether:

- inhouse-produced, possibly even phone-filmed, video

- or a full-blown custom animated video production,

- or even a mini-movie with actors?

It works on the principle:

Increased Change = Increased Risk

ie, when changes occur, then risk increases

- and incidents are more likely to occur.

Now let's take a look at the Safety Video Triangle and see how to apply it in real life.

The Safety Video Triangle

Accidents and incidents are always more likely when there’s Change, especially unexpected change, a break from routine.

For example building sites are constantly changing and obviously are more incident prone compared to, say, a factory with a static workforce, where each employee more or less stays in one place all day, every day.

To assess whether a video is needed you need to assess the amount of Change taking place in your business or organisation.

Broadly there are three opportunities for Change when:

1: Workplace changes, ie, people are working in a different place to usual, such as being moved to a different area or site, or simply if a workplace is unexpectedly untidy, which is a change in itself.

2: People change, ie, new starters, visitors, or outsourced workers arrive, or competent people are off sick, or perhaps there's a panic rush job right on shift change.

3: Risks change, ie, new hazards, new equipment, new work methods, or where potential catastrophe arises. Any construction site fits this category.

So how do these Changes affect your video decisions?


First: Using the following table, identify whether your Changes are small, medium or large.


eg, only 1 point in the triangle is covered is small,


or 2 points, eg when Changes involve people change plus workplace change, then it's medium


or if all 3 points on the triangle are covered by your Changes then it's large.


The type of video you’ll need is shown in the right hand column

Level of changeVideo solution
1 point of the triangle
Single topic situation, quickly remedied
Off the shelf safety video
2 points of the triangle
More complex situation, needs a specific video for one or more topics
Inhouse-produced DIY or budget freelancer video
3 points of the triangle
Perfect storm potential, needs a custom specific video solution to cover many topics
Custom outsourced video

The Small, Medium and Large correspond to the time, effort and budget you need to put into your video production.

Safe behaviour advice

Whether to make safety video in-house or outsource

Any new video always comes at a cost in both time & money, and this can be very variable.


For a Small Change, where the risk impact is relatively small & specific you can:

- find a free YouTube download (there are many), or download clips from the HSE, OSHA or similar video resource libraries

- or rent a safety training video for low cost to cover your specific safety topic, or simple workplace safety issue.

These are suitable for showing site rules, like no smoking, keep to speed limits, always wear the PPE provided, etc


For a Medium Change, where the risks and potential impacts are more complex, you can:

- make the video yourself as DIY, or use your inhouse team, or get part-time or freelance camera operator help, say to film a short safety demonstration, which could be boosted by free clips you've downloaded, or photographs you've taken onsite.

This way you’re more likely to get the exact video you want, whether for specific safety instructions or safe behaviour advice.

There are 12 or more online video production systems available for a low monthly subscription that enable you to produce a health & safety video inhouse, either filmed or animated.

Or you may want to hire a storyboard artist for animated scenes.


For a Large Change, where a variety of risks & potential impacts are increasingly likely, then you have the potential Perfect Storm or catastrophe to arise.

This can be anything from

- discovering an unforeseen confined space full of gas,

- new handling equipment given to new people in a new place

- to handling contagious bacteria in a laboratory.

In spite of enforcing strict compliance & authorisation, incidents can & do occur in these Large Change situations.

Your main choice here is to outsource the production to a safety video or safety animation company.

Prices will vary greatly, depending on the complexity of your needs, and the amount of information you need to convey in your safety training video.

- eg, quality custom animation can cost £1,000 per runtime minute, but you can be confident every employee or contractor will understand and remember it.

In summary, for:

- small changes use free video or rent

- medium changes make the video inhouse, especially if you have some inhouse skills available to you, such as a video editor.

- large changes will probably require outsourcing your video project, either to a freelancer or full-blown production company.

A safety video can be made more effective whatever the budget level.

Animated Safety video

Should you choose animation or film for safety video?

My advice is to use animation where possible as people like cartoons. So do all the H&S Managers I've ever worked with.

Motion graphics can say & do whatever you want, which is how you get more impact with your viewer, your target audience.

Animated productions are usually less effort & difficulty compared to organising an equivalent onsite film shoot, which is often disruptive, and requires careful planning of locations, cast & props, organising video shoot & crew etc.

Safety videos cost very little using a low cost online video production suite. There are 12 or more available, and many let you storyboard in advance so you can check your video is saying the right thing, and looking okay for it.

Most of these self-drive systems are suitable for simple safety information you can make yourself inhouse. Some even offer 3D animation.

You can also shoot the footage yourself if you prefer the film route, using your mobile phone for filming, and editing it all on your PC, using online video editing software. It might not be the most engaging training video, but it'll do the job for a training session or a simple induction video, especially if you already have inhouse filmmaking skills & experience in producing corporate training videos. Most large companies have some degree of this. Smaller companies need to be more resourceful.

At the other end of the scale, I've seen companies spend up to £60,000 or even £150,000 for a multi-country film production & animated suite of interactive training videos in a variety of foreign languages.

There's always something better than what you can do. But mostly all you need is to "do the job".

Once you've assessed the scope of your requirements by assessing the changes in the Safety Video Triangle, you'll have a good idea of which type of video you need

- which helps enormously when narrowing your search for specifications & costs.

Achieve safety targets through effective animated video that people remember & apply everyday


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