New Safety Ads "A Missed Opportunity"

    Despite the Gore, Ads Don't Deliver the Right Message, says AFL

    EDMONTON, Oct. 29 /CNW/ - The Alberta government released a set of
web-only safety ads today aimed at young workers. The ads are graphic and gory
and attempt to highlight dangers common in youth workplaces. After reviewing
the ads, the AFL responded by saying they are a tragic missed opportunity.
    "Edgy ads aimed at youth is a good idea, one long overdue," says AFL
President Gil McGowan. "However, Alberta has botched the concept by narrowing
the message too much."
    "The core message of the six ads is that young workers shouldn't be
'stupid', and that is the wrong message."
    McGowan points out that in the ads, the young worker does something
stupid to cause the accident. In four of the ads, there is no hint of
employer's or others' errors leading to the accident - it is just poor
decisions by the worker. The other two imply other co-workers were equally to
blame. None of the ads look at employer actions or systemic shortcomings in
the workplace, which are the things more likely to cause accidents. "Accidents
are not caused by one action. Injuries are caused by a series of poor
decisions by both the employer and worker. Lack of training, rushed pace of
work, and cutting safety corners lead to injuries - a point completely missed
by these ads."
    McGowan contrasts the Alberta ads to Ontario's attempt to reach out to
young workers. The Ontario website,, also offers graphic ads
of workplace accidents. Ads also have been distributed via e-mails as a viral
campaign. However, the Ontario ads try to highlight how employer decisions AND
worker decisions combined to cause the accident. In one Ontario ad distributed
by e-mail (available from the AFL on request), a dead electrical worker rises
from his coffin to proclaim "Accident? What are you talking about? Your
company never fully trained me to work on high voltage wires." The corpse also
regrets not using his safety equipment.
    "The Ontario campaign is much more effective because it tries to convey a
full message about how to prevent accidents. Alberta should have adopted their
    McGowan says the ads and accompanying website should be telling young
workers what their rights are. "This government is allergic to telling workers
they have rights."
    The website offers questions workers should ask their employer and some
tips for how to prevent the accidents depicted in the ads, but nothing about
what a worker can actively do to prevent it happening to them. "The website
fails to offer the tools young workers need to stay safe."
    "Gore and blood might be appropriate to shock us just before Halloween,
but it is not enough to make sure our young workers make it home safely. The
government has failed young workers yet again," McGowan concludes.

For further information:

For further information: Gil McGowan, AFL President @ (780) 483-3021
(office) or (780) 218-9888 (cell)

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Alberta Federation of Labour

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