Safety slogans are a form of social marketing. The slogan should identify a specific behavior that should be changed or reinforce a positive behavior.
Some famous safety slogans include:
- Only you can prevent forest fires.
- Safety - it's in your hands.
- Your first mistake could be your last.
- Think safety.
- Think positive - an accident is only an attitude away.
Safety slogans are usually imperative (see types of slogans section) but sometimes humor can be used to make them more memorable. Keep in mind that simple instructions are not slogans. As an example, "Keep the cover on when using this drill." is not a slogan. "This drill can kill!" is a slogan.
It's key that safety slogans suit the culture of the organization. Slogans will backfire if safety is not an integral part of the everyday conduct of both workers and management.
When I worked in the service industry, one of my favorite times was on a Friday afternoon back in the warehouse. As the guys would come in to unload their tools, we would gather around in a loose circle, sitting on boxes, relaxing with a beer. Inevitably, stories about the week would be told and these would be topped by stories from the past. "That's a dicey situation, but it was nothing compared to the time when Ken and I were in the boiler room at the hospital and..." Everyone knew the stories were exaggerated, but everyone also knew that these stories contained a lot of truth about dangers on the job, people to watch out for and the dumb things smart people often do.
These types of stories are inevitably told regardless of the type of business. They reveal a lot about what's important to employees and their culture. For anyone responsible for workplace communications, they are an invaluable source of information about how employees will respond to the communication you produce. You likely will never actually repeat these stories in your communication material, but knowing the language of your people can give you insights into how to tell your own stories.
As an example, safety may be a concern. Promoting safety is always a challenge. Employees will scoff at slogans that sound canned or trivial. You must address their real concerns in their language. Instead of simply saying "Secure your Load", which can apply to anyone, you might make it more personal by saying something like "Rolling Pipes Break Legs", reminding everyone of a specific incident.
Similarly, a safety newsletter can provide positive feedback but it might also address how very specific situations should be handled. You will know these situations if you can recall the general gist of the stories and what the most common themes are, such as, lost tools, weather conditions, stupid people and so on. These themes can be spread throughout your communication materials.