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Mind control for site safety

Pilot scheme uses subliminal messaging technique to reinforce safe site practices

BUILDERS are being brainwashed into becoming safer by a new subliminal messaging technique currently being tested by the Health and Safety Executive.

The idea has been tried out on a handful of sites to see whether construction workers respond to subconscious reminders about working safely.

The Trojan Horse Messaging study - led by the Steel Construction Institute and sponsored by the HSE - used basic images to increase safety awareness. Drawings of best practice and how to avoid accidents were placed on tools and products used on a daily basis by builders.

The pilot scheme - predominantly focusing on steelwork trades - covered a number of potential dangers, including lifting, noise, unloading and slinging.

The safety images were used on sites run by Skanska, Taylor Woodrow, Multiplex, Bovis Lend Lease and Mace.

Taylor Woodrow head of health and safety Steve Derbyshire said: 'This technique definitely made a difference. It's a new tool to be used to inf luence the actions of people on sites as it directly delivers key messages to operatives without direct management intervention. The point of contact is where the work is and not the notice board, which is often ignored.'

University of Loughborough academics assessed site operatives before and after the images were implemented and results showed they had a positive impact on workers.

Health and Safety Commission chair Bill Callaghan said: 'This novel messaging technique can instigate positive behaviou ral change in site operat ives.'

The scheme is particularly useful for foreign workers, because it uses pictures rather than instructions.

Steel Construction Institute spokeswoman Clare Convy said: 'The images were designed to make safety messages clear and enable site workers to understand them regardless of their native language. We hope this pilot scheme becomes a long-term campaign, considering the positive results we've obtained.'