The story of health and safety 

Emmanuelle Sangster


The printing press was invented in the 15th century in order to tell the world of the stories and happenings of worldwide and local events (Dittmar, 2011). A mass widespread of information began a broad “way of life”; people became knowledgeable and interested into variety of topics out width their reach otherwise (Forbes and Mahan, 2005). In this manner, information has transpired through radio; bringing a nation of people together for radio broadcasts to play music to thousands of people simultaneously, broadcast interviews and radio programmes that unite the nation in interest.  

The creation of the television brought radio and newspaper stories to life, adding a 3D element that has created popular culture throughout generations. Fictional and real life stories are engaged in, celebrated, mourned, and enjoyed through a number of years. The impact therefore that press print; radio and television has on the knowledge of fictional and reality stories alike has been extraordinary. News shows; documentaries; reality television shows and fictional entertainment programmes alike all document and broadcast aspects of life hidden otherwise by the limitations of our local and social connections.  

True to this concept, consumer brands use explicit advertisements that create a story about their brand. Advertisements engages the audience in a story that allows them to connect with that brand Steve Jobs was known for turning sales presentation into moving experiences for the audience to be informed; entertained and inspired (Gallo, 2010). Alike, social networks have successfully lay the foundations of their development and presence on the idea of connecting individuals through the stories that they tell. These stories of marked interest broadcast virally to an intricate network of connected individuals through the method of an individual wishing to re-tell this story throughout their network. The art of storytelling has created Facebook into a worldwide phenomenon, its success is measured financially at its market value recently reaching an estimated £157 billion pounds (CNN, 2015). However, the impact is seen much more than financially, it has engaged and connected the world with each other; and ignited passion in the world for sharing their stories and interests.  

The proposal is this: What if we can have the same effect through engaging with our health and safety conversations as we do as conversations we see so current within our popular culture through increasingly engaging mediums? If we look into why we choose to continuously engage in certain mediums of entertainment and choose certain brands over another we may look at how it makes you feel. Creating an affective interest for health and safety awareness is therefore how health and safety makes you feel. Does your health and safety training make you feel connected? Does your health and safety initiatives make you feel motivated? How can we create such an enthusiasm that we see for other stories that we are passionate about learning; sharing and discussing?  

Every single person in the workforce has our own stories to share about health and safety. New regulation has however increasingly found business’ creating this into a ‘tick the box’ exercise. The boxes on the health and safety initiatives should look towards ticking the box of engagement; rather than completed health and safety exercises that elude to a positive health and safety climate- how are we testing the effectiveness? 

We must look towards making health and safety as discussed and as engaging as stories we hear about through television and other mediums to create the same business success within this area. Everyone is creating their own health and safety story every day; however the awareness and reflection of what an inadequate and positive health and safety behaviours look like allows us to understand and make sense of the environment we are creating. We all should take time to mentally take a step outside the box of our usual routines to reflect on what environment we are creating for ourselves at work.  

This poses questions towards a method of health and safety training that ignites passion within the workforce that ignites interest that moves it away from a statutory requirement into one that can create a competitive advantage for your business through a healthy safe work climate. The objectives of health and safety training includes to obtain knowledge; create behavioural change and situational awareness and through this increase positive outcomes. Engagement of the workforce therefore is a powerful tool and one that is increasing interest towards health and safety in order to increase the outcomes. 

The use of theatre is documented within organisational and student studies as an effective and engaging methodology of learning through storytelling. Studies have shown a 60% increase in uptake of knowledge from theatre opposed to the use of lecture presentation alone (Sternberg and Garcia, 2000). Theatre within health and safety is an innovative method; but one that is therefore increasingly being documented as proposing to be health and safety’s best kept secret.  

The key is towards making health and safety a topic of interest, one that we share between one another. If companies utilise a tool for health and safety that creates engaged conversation around subject matter such as health and safety as it as in other mediums that create stories such as television; radio and newspapers alike; we create a culture that connects with them with their own and each other health and safety behaviours to bring to life health and safety within your workforce. 


Emmanuelle Sangster, Editor

Acting Up Ltd.



  1. Dittmar, J., E., (2011). Information Technology and Economic Change: The Impact of The Printing Press. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 126(3). pp.1133-1172. 

  1. Forbes, B., D., and Mahan, J., H., ed., (2005). Religion and Popular Culture in America. University of California Press, Ltd: London. 

  1. Gallo, C., (2010). The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience. [e-book] McGraw-Hill. Available at: <> [Accessed 15th March, 2016] 

  1. Sternberg, P., Garcia, A., (2000) Sociodrama: who’s in your shoes? 2nd ed. Praeger Publishers: United States of America.