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About the Author

David Donkin spent 15 years managing safety in a variety of roles within the NSG international glass group.

In this time he produced over 90 safety videos in a mix of languages, helping embed behavioural safety culture change programs and safety management systems.

You can visit David on LinkedIn here and his safety website here


How do we safety professionals use video? Get a few people together, stick on an off the shelf DVD and bang – tick the box – and we’re done for another year. Sound familiar?

In my opinion, this is a great missed opportunity because ‘off the shelf’ DVD’s have never worked for me, but I understand they have their place and there are some good ones.

What they lack is demonstrating and promoting the safety message in your actual workplace in a way that matches the safety culture and language of the company.

I learnt many years ago from a good friend in the business that we now live in a fast-paced video world, and safety training is no different.

Yet still, the simplest of analogies hold true today

– no matter what the message, keep it simple

– and keep it real & relevant.

I started, as we all do, with ‘Safety Inductions’.

We used to spent hours with powerpoint teaching visitors, contractors and new starters the complexity of HASAWA, COSHH, Management Reg

– when all I wanted was the four “What’s” ‘What’s the manufacturing process’, ‘What the key risks are’, ‘What the control measures are’ and What you could do to keep yourself safe’.


Making your own video program is, in my opinion, is the most effective way of implementing your safety initiative.

Here are my 4 reasons why:

1 – You’re in control of the key messages

2 – You have accurate repeatability

3 – It’s relevant to your organisation

4 – It has the look & feel of how your business is run

There is however a very big BUT, video programs are very powerful one-way communication so it only one part of the delivery.

You need a front end and a tail-end that can engage in two-way communication,

ie, bring it back to what the team has to do differently

I have used video in a variety of ways to get key messages across a global organisation spanning many different cultures.

In one project, I embedded 3 key messages to 30,000 people in 19 languages in less than a year.

Key highlights over the years


Safety Inductions are the bread and butter, when shot in the factories where we work doing the actual jobs , remembering to keep it simple, keep it real, use actors and professional voice over.

What people see in the induction tells them how serious the company takes their safety.

Done well, the induction can serve as refresher for older hands.

Benefit: You’re clearly saying “we’re serious about safety, and you need to be too”


Sadly I have had to deal with fatalities.

Yes, we’re all horrified, and yes, we fix the immediate things, but what did we learn?

Do we fall into the trap of producing a huge report that no one reads?

Multimedia gives you an opportunity to bring back to life a tragic situation and to learn from it.

I have recreated a number of accidents though careful scripting and the introduction of quality animation – not the usual blood and guts – but the thinking person’s actual sequence of events.

The most important element is, what are the top three things you want everyone to do differently?

Have these spoken by the ultimate authority – the CEO.

Big tip: Shoot the CEO on green screen as it saves on their time and you have lots of options in post-production for graphics.

Benefit of Multimedia: Accuracy and repeatability of the safety message

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is always tricky in a multi-cultural organisation, but using high-impact accident sequences always grabs the attention. Imagine recreating a number of high-frequency accident scenes in real life, Take a step back.

> Look at your fatality risk areas

> Develop scenarios from your accident reports

> Test the scene with employees

> No dialogue, ie, an emailable 1 min length

Build the scenario into a two tool box talk.

The key is the two way communication, “Can this happen here and to you” “What are the barriers to change?” And “What can we do differently?”

Benefit of video: Demonstrating the impossible “This s**t just got real”

CEO Safety Message

Don’t let the corporate communications or the marketing people stop you from using the power of the CEO to support your safety programs.

A media-savvy CEO will know the importance of the messages they’re sending.

Multimedia does not have to be seen as sending just ‘reactive messages’ or as just another training tool.

We can use the media to send proactive messages.

I’ve taken the CEO from the stereotypical behind-the-desk presentation, to delivering the keynote address to camera for a Global Safety Day, filming him on the shop floor engaging with managers and employees.

The presentation was delivered by managers to 30,000 employees in less than 24hrs at the start of a Global Safety Day.

Benefit of video: Rapid delivery

Developing video to convey the safety messages is not rocket science.

But it does take a huge commitment and a leap of faith as you’re placing your future into the hands of a bunch of artists and highly creative people.

My TOP TEN tips

  1. Trust the production company you work with,

  1. Start with what you want to end with, and work backwards, There must always be an outcome / action.

  1. Involve as many people as you can to generate the ideas and scenarios. Nothing is off the wall. But have a clear message to tell

  1. Turn the brainstorm into a storyboard, script, and production plan. Time spent here is very well spent:- Get it planned and agreed

  1. PDCA – Plan Do Check Act, Keep doing this, before the shoot, during the shoot and after the shoot.

  1. Do a scouting trip with the camera operator and director. Get people engaged, especially employees, at the shoot location. They’ll tell you how it really is.

  1. Day of the shoot, do not get involved, stand back and observe, assume the role of the producer and safety lookout.

  1. Use the technology, animation, graphics, voice over and professional actors

  1. Let the editor do their job and wait for the Oscar nomination.

  1. Last but not least: look after the camera operator, the crew and the actors

90% of a video production is in the script and the production plan to get it right here, Keep it simple, keep it real

Get it right and the video will save lives.

One 3 min action sequence has saved 5 lives. Why? Because we showed the consequences of not following a simple Key Safe Behaviour.

The clip went viral in the organisation. Do you really need a better reason to get engaged with your employees?

See more training video examples here

5 Routes to Safety Video Production

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