The “pain game” advertisement appeared on the TV today. “Tony” a construction worker takes – according to the storyline – a “short cut” that costs him a broken pelvis. The pain game is a worker blame game and misses the safe design angle.
What’s Tony doing? He is drilling a hole in a concrete column. Tony makes an improvised stand to get high enough to drill the hole with a battery-powered hammer drill and falls backwards.
The message blames the person nearest the accident sequence – a common a serious flaw in accident analysis. Tony is just doing a job, as he will be on the next column, and the one after that, and on the next floor, and so on.
The real question here is not the “short cut” that Tony is taking but the designer’s short cut. Why is the hole needed? Could the purpose of the hole be achieved another way? Could it be a cast-in hole or cast-in fixing? If it must be drilled on site does this fixture need to be so high on the column. If it could be lower Tony would not need a stand at all. If it could be eliminated or cast in, Tony would not even need to do the job on site.
The safe design approach is a much more powerful form of solution as it is multiplied across the job on all the columns. Further the safe design approach would remove other hazards such as noise, vibration, dust, electrical leads (if not using the battery drill). All of these remain if Tony works the “right way”. This is why the worker blame game delivers limited advantages.
If we can get the safe design aspect moving more strongly construction safety will be improved and also efficiency of the projects. Tony would not have to take a short cut. The advertisement might be clever, and I found the “game show host” played quite a funny character, but being clever or amusing is only useful if the message is useful.