The Power of Drama in Health, Safety and Environment Training.
Hilary Murray MA MSc Aff. IOA CIEH (Grad)
It is an essential dramatic requirement of writing for performance that the writer has to engage the emotions of onlookers who have to be able to relate to what is happening to the characters before them. Each member of the audience has to feel, to some extent, the feelings that the character is experiencing before them and to care about that character and what happens to them, and it is the job of the actor to enable them to do that. These feelings are universal to most humans and especially poignant are feelings of compassion, horror and fear of injury and even death and the wider repercussions of such incidences. If the actor does their job well, the audience member will remember the feelings they have experienced for a very long time. Otherwise, if they have not engaged, the onlooker is free to leave and will.
The Health and Safety At Work Act (As Amended) Sec 2 (c) and the Health and Safety (Training for Employment) Regulations 1990 both require an employer to provide relevant training for their employees for the purpose of reducing the risk to those employees of known workplace hazards. There are many employees who themselves realise the dangers of various workplace practices and only need to be warned of these dangers to bear the warnings in mind and to do their best to avoid them. There are also other employees who do not seem to feel that the risks apply to them and will not take heed of warnings relating to risks. Most employees will fall somewhere in between. A moment’s distraction or lack of thought or the carelessness of someone else and serious injuries and deaths in workplaces remain common.
One way of meeting the duty to train employees about workplace hazards is for the employer to read out warnings from information sheets. Another is to put up these sheets on noticeboards and hope employees read these and act on them. A more effective way to engage all employees may be for obvious victims of injuries or trained actors to act out a scenario directly relating to the impact of doing the wrong thing and incurring the devastating consequences and how this has affected their wider lives for the worse. Once any employee had engaged emotionally with the plight of the character before them, they will not forget those feelings for a very long time.
Hilary Murray’s early training in health care issues was in patient advocacy through the Community Health Councils. She first trained as a health care ethicist and lawyer in her home city of Manchester where she was involved in running the medical school student group, the Manchester Medical (Ethics) Group. Further training in Environmental Health at Derby reinforced her passion for protecting the vulnerable from avoidable situations of harm. Following a course in writing for performance at Bolton, she has written screen and stage plays which are to be marketed. She is also a vocalist and has sung and played with professional, semi professional and amateur musicians, mainly in the North West.
A former foster carer and now widowed, she has six grown children of her own.