Is Your Safety Program Analog or Digital?


While speaking at a Safety Forum in Chicago this past week, I posed a question to the Safety Directors and Safety Engineers in the room: “How many of you, at this very moment, have Safety videos on VHS tapes in your office?


The muffled, embarrassed laughs preceded the raised hands. Slowly, about 75% of the attendees raised their hands. One of the not-so-proud VHS tape owners later admitted to me he had recently almost paid $250 online for a new Safety video on VHS. The price was so high because so few companies still produce videos in that format…. It was at that point, he said, he knew he was behind the times.


Behind the times? If you still consider a Safety video on VHS a viable training asset, you just hijacked Doc Brown’s DeLorean, loaded the flux capacitor with your sack lunch, and picked up Marty McFly…  In other words, you are going Back to the El Futuro

Gotta go, Marty! The jobsite in Scottsdale needs this Safety Video on VHS yesterday!


If you asked this same group of individuals if they still use a Sony Walkman, they would laugh heartily. It would be a good joke. Of course not. No one uses a Walkman anymore.


The Walkman was introduced to the public in 1979.


The VHS tape? 1977.


Both are ridiculous items to have in your office in 2012. Unless, of course, your office is a museum.


To revisit 1977 for a moment, The BeeGees (How Deep is Your Love) and KC and The Sunshine Band (I’m Your Boogie Man) were blowing up the music scene, Star Wars and Saturday Night Fever dominated the box office, and Jimmy Carter was en La Casablanca.

This is your Safety Program. I hope you are happy with yourself.


And apparently, the Safety community had found the medium of choice for effectively communicating their message for the next 35 years. OK – I realize I’m laying it on pretty thick here, but C’mon…. we’re better than this aren’t we?




Everyone is busy these days in construction. Everyone is doing more with less. Everyone is wearing multiple hats. In times like these, we need to work más inteligente.


If you are still managing VHS tapes, that means you are still managing VCR’s. If you’ve made the quantum leap to CD’s or DVD’s, that’s better… but still – why are you managing anything physical these days?


Working smarter is dumping the Analog and going strictly digital. If you are mailing anything physical, you are spending money on postage & envelopes. More significantly, you are wasting your time on a task that a high school dropout could handle. And if new employees or contractors are required to watch a video before starting on your job, that may require overnighting a physical DVD to the site. That is both costly & an unnecessarily urgent task – one that just hijacked your day.




Never in the history of the world has it been easier to communicate a consistent message at scale. So let’s start leveraging the technology around us – fast, easy, and free – to improve the Safety on our jobsites.


Don’t know where to start?


No problema – just follow these easy steps….


(NOTA: The following steps show how to make Safety videos with a Mac. For PC users, check out this video….



Organize your digital Safety photos into folders on your computer according to activity. For example, a folder for Scaffolding photos, a folder for Step Ladder photos, a folder for Extension Cords photos, etc.



Open Keynote (It’s like Power Point, but it’s designed intuitively for humans and doesn’t suck). Hit “+ New” in the top left hand corner until you have 10 slides. Select 10 photos from a single jobsite activity and place one photo on each of the 10 slides.



Export presentation to QuickTime video. Select “Fixed Timing.” I set the slide duration for 8 seconds. The video will now convert and you’ll see your video move in slow motion. The conversion will take about 5 minutes, más o menos.





Open new project in iMovie.



Import QuickTime video you just made into iMovie. Drag video from bottom to top, into the blank New Project.




Obtain a USB microphone. I spent $100 on a Blue Yeti. It looks awesome and sounds very good. Plug it in.


Sounds great, looks great.



While your video plays, narrate. Don’t be monotone. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun. Pretend you’re on ESPN – Entertainment Safety Performance Network.



Open Youtube account in your company’s name. This will take all of 30 seconds to do and it’s free. You control the privacy options, so no worry there.



Click on the word SHARE at the top and upload video to Youtube.



Email link to those who need it. Congratulate yourself for bringing your Safety Program into the 21st Century. Do some quick math on all the postage, envelopes, and time savings – email your boss on what a unique little corporate snowflake  you are. Take the rest of the day off.



You have successfully started to build your own Digital Safety Library (DSL). You now have the ability to send links to your Safety Videos via email in real time to workers actually doing those tasks. 


Have a crew setting up scaffolding?


Have the crew take 5 and send them all a link to the video. Let them know it’s coming and why it’s critical. Now your communication is Anticipated. Watching a Scaffolding training video for 5 minutes with jobsite photos you recognize while setting up scaffolding – that’s both Relevant & Personal.


What about the Spanish speakers? Find someone to narrate in Spanish. Don’t rely on Google translate – you need to find someone who speaks the way the workers speak on the job. Why? Personal communication is always better than Impersonal.


You can control the timeliness and effectiveness of your Safety message with assets you already own (jobsite photos) and send them to workers when they need them.


In this way, your message will be Anticipated, Relevant and Personal. Your jobsite will  be safer and you will have dumped Analog for Digital at a cost (other than your time) close to zero dollars and zero cents. Do it. It makes sense.




Bradley Hartmann is founder and el presidente at Red Angle (, a Spanish language training firm focused on the construction industry. If you need help, just give him a buzz. 

Categories: Jobsite Leadership

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