Accident Prevention - Using Cautionary Tales in Safety Training

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Cautionary Tales Can Reduce Risk and Onsite Injuries

Storytelling is a powerful way to convey a message—use it wisely in accident prevention training to minimize risk, avoid unintentional injuries, and create better safety practices on site. Cautionary tales can be found across all cultures and languages and are stories used to warn the listener about danger and guide them towards improved or safe behavior. Think of “The Boy Who Cried, Wolf." Cautionary tales can be an effective tool in safety training, and if used seriously, can help to manage hazards and prevent workplace accidents. 

Caution is King! So Are the Facts

Cautionary tales are designed to keep people out of danger. While cautionary tales tend to be more entertaining than Safety Meetings, their objectives are essentially the same—both attempt to keep people out of harm’s way. The difference? Safety Meetings skip the storytelling and go straight to the facts—facts your people need in order to make good choices that will keep them from getting hurt or killed.

Cautionary Tales in Accident Prevention Safety Training

As a safety professional, you’re no stranger to cautionary tales from the job. Many of these start with “I knew a guy once…” and then go on to recount a grisly workplace accident that resulted in severe injury or even death. Adding your own tale to a Safety Meeting could help your people relate to the ideas in the Safety Meeting and remember them longer.

Emphasize What Went Wrong and Why

If you decide to include a tale, make sure that it ends with a clear explanation of what went wrong and why, so your people have a good understanding of what to avoid.

Never Make Light of Workplace Incidents

Stay away from stories that make a joke out of the situation or aim a laugh at the person who gets hurt. Such stories can cause people to feel above that situation, that they themselves won’t ever have that problem because they would never do such a “silly” or “stupid” thing. Cautionary tales can be an effective tool in safety training, and if used seriously, can help to prevent accidents and create a safety culture.