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A Little Comic Relief Can Perk Up Safety Programs

03 February, 2023

Laughter can make any situation better, especially at work. To help boost safety meetings, safety and health managers and other leaders can strategically use laughter to build relationships and make important messages stick among the group.

Good-natured humor can create an active experience and attract greater attention to safety. Using a bit of humor, the Texas Department of Transportation is gaining success in getting drivers to pay more attention to traffic and safety messages. The agency operates more than 700 digital messaging signs throughout the state, with modern and trendy messages such as "Awwww snap your seatbelt" and "Arrive alive, make that your gooooooooooal."

"We are trying to find different ways to get the message of safety across to our drivers," said Sarah Dupre, a spokeswoman for the Texas DOT. These funny or quirky messages have done so well that other state DOTs, such as Maine, Minnesota, and Utah, are joining in and seeing the benefits of adding a bit of humor to road safety.

Power of Laughter

Throughout the world, there is no shortage of research and statistics on the benefits of laughter. After all, laughter is said to be the best medicine. Conducting a poll over several years starting in 2010 on the usage of humor at work, humorist author Andrew Tarvin reports:.

  • 69% of respondents said that humor in the workplace was important or very important. 2% said that it was not important at all.
  • 33% of respondents said they use humor at work regularly.

Of the 2/3rds of people who didn't use humor at work, their reasons were:

  • I don't think my boss, co-workers, or direct reports would approve (43%).
  • I don't know how (34%).
  • I don't have time (15%).
  • I don't see its value (4%).
  • I don't think it's appropriate (3%)
  • 84% of respondents said they thought being more humorous would improve their job.

Act Up for Safety

In the workplace, humor can build relationships by fostering a positive group dynamic, enhancing safety communication and understanding. It can reduce stress and pique interest in a subject matter, causing an increased likelihood that a worker will remember the message.

"A workplace laughter group can appeal to a diverse range of employees, can be effective with minimal investment of time, and may have sustained positive effects on self-beliefs that have been shown to correlate with positive workplace behaviors," said Heidi Beckman, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin, in a report on humor's effects in the workplace.

Safety is no laughing matter. However, humor can be a valuable tool to help workers remember information. Ongoing training and education in health and safety is key to successful workplace safety programs. In using humorous messages, it is likely workers will pay more attention and retain the message. Whether it is premade humor labels or shareable infographics and videos, using inventive ways to communicate safety messages can help more effectively teach safety best practices, making the activity seem more than just mundane required material. Grab attention, increase engagement, and keep things organized with fun safety education resources and visual communication. Tailor messages to the specific workplace with custom visual communication solutions to keep workers safe and facilities running efficiently.