Safety Laughter

by Fargy

Safety is serious, and it can easily be brushed off as boring, which poses a problem when trying to get people to think about safety.

How do we engage an audience? We are told humor helps, that a sparkle of wit can make the conversation more enthralling. But what if the topic is serious?

Safety can easily be categorized as serious business. To free up imagination and conversation it's best if everyone is relaxed, if they can trust themselves to have a laugh or make a joke.

When conversation is reserved then we start to see employees not asking questions, not being involved, so that they can finish the conversation quicker and get back to activity they value more highly.

Let's take a look at humor and safety. They are more closely related than one might think.

Laughter is the best medicine.

It's been said before, being happy makes us healthy.

But we do tend to laugh at the misfortunes of others.

We have a natural tendency to Schadenfreude, but more than that we enjoy comedy which employs physical humour.   Jim Carrey movies are one example.  But we can go right back to the slapstick of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.

Maudlin mayhem for others, makes us merry.

Now if we prepare to talk about safety, we forget all that, and we get deadly serious.

We expound and propound over spreadsheets and charts.  We bore into our audience boringly.  Because we take safety seriously.

However by taking safety seriously, are we doing less than our best?

Dumb ways to die.

The Darwin Awards.

In Safety it's survival of the fittest, and that fittest is who can learn and teach safety the best.

We have the Darwin Awards as an internet commentary on odd deaths and how various people achieved their fifteen minutes of fame, by improving the gene pool.


 These tongue in cheek awards show again our morbidly humorous interest in safety, or its lack thereof.

If you want people to open their eyes and minds to your safety presentations, make them laugh.

A visual of an outrageous safety situation can help.

A short talk about one's personal experience can help especially if one can laugh at oneself.  It helps show that we all make mistakes, and accepting that helps us improve safety.  Otherwise we move too easily into a blame and shame game.

Here are some helpful pictures...

 Try not to create too many funny safety stories.  

 We want to be alive to enjoy them.

Picture this.

The last laugh.

Being happy is why we chase safety, it is why we pursue that goal of zero harm.

If we take it too seriously, we burn out, we are setting ourselves up to fail, it's not possible for anyone to save everyone else.  People will get injured, there will be bad times.  A sense of humor is vital, so that we find the energy to get through roadblocks and setbacks.

Or as Jimmy Durante put it...

It dawned on me then that as long as I could laugh, I was safe from the world; and I have learned since that laughter keeps me safe from myself, too.

                       -Jimmy Durante


Take care out there.


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Other articles, same author.

Why is a safety match called a safety match? Why should we not play with matches? Fire is the embodiment of the dual nature of Safety/Risk.
We wear high visibility clothing to decrease our chance of accidents. Let's look a little closer.
How we measure effects how we manage Safety. What we measure does and when. Perhaps more importantly though is Why.
Every group has someone that performs risk assessments more carefully and talks about safety more than others. These people become Safety Champions.
Updated: 10/20/2013, Fargy
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