Is this the most bizarre health and safety tie-in of all time?
The drive to raise awareness of health and safety has led to some odd tie-ins over the years. For years public information ads were shown just before BBC1 closed down every night, designed to scare people into behaving more responsibly and keeping themselves safe. From the horrific “Robbie” which warned against the dangers of electrified rail lines, to Donald Pleasence’s terrifying turn in the “Lonely Water” safe-swimming campaign, fear has been used powerfully to encourage people to take care.
And although a generation of children grew up petrified of electricity substations, remote lakes and strangers, it seems that fear is no longer the preferred method for raising health and safety awareness. Instead the order of the day seems to be humour.
A cult classic re-imagined
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has recently launched a new campaign called Yellow Wellies, highlighting health and safety issues on farms. Despite just 1.5% of the UK workforce being employed on farms, they account for 15% to 20% of all workplace fatalities; There were 27 agricultural-related deaths during 2014 alone.
To help the Yellow Wellies campaign stand out, the NFU has enlisted the help of “Scrumpy and Western” legends The Wurzels. Working with the Farm Safety Foundation (FSF), The Wurzels have re-recorded their 1974 classic Combine Harvester, featuring a new set of lyrics that highlight the risks of modern farming. Students from Moreton Morrell College have also pitched in to produce a music video to accompany the song.
The NFU hope that by creating a catchy, sing-a-long tune, people will instinctively remember the underlying safety message. People viewing the music video are also being encouraged to make a pledge, sharing a statement of intent on their Facebook timeline or Twitter feed:
“Like The Wurzels, I know that farm safety is the key – I pledge to look after myself, my family and my friends on the farm #farmsafety”
Speaking about their involvement in the campaign, Wurzel’s band member Pete Budd said,
“We have always had a big following from young farmers so we are horrified there are so many accidents taking lives.
“A number of factors contribute to the terrible on-farm death toll, including the use of high-powered machinery, incidents involving livestock and working long hours.”
The Yellow Wellies campaign comes at a time when the FSF has discovered that more than half (51%) of young farmers were willing to take unnecessary risks when doing jobs around the farm. A further 16% said they would follow instructions from their boss or colleague, even if they knew it was not safe to do so.
The long-term success of the Yellow Wellies campaign remains to be seen. However the shift from fear to fun could be just what the agricultural industry needs to help raise standards and reduce injuries and deaths.
Over to you – what is the strangest health and safety awareness campaign you have ever seen?