Case study: Office of Road and Rail occupational health drive achieves 'very high figures' on social

The Office of Road and Rail (ORR) achieved more than 13,000 Twitter impressions with a hard-hitting social-media campaign warning of the dangers of silicosis and hand-arm vibration syndrome.

Glynn Jones: veteran stonemason is the face of the ORR's safety campaign
Glynn Jones: veteran stonemason is the face of the ORR's safety campaign

The comms push, which launched on 19 February, used Twitter, YouTube and a mailout to target the ORR's list of occupational health professionals, educating recipients about how to prevent conditions arising from working in the presence of silica dust and from improper use of heavily vibrating power tools.

The ORR produced a pair of videos as the primary means of communications. These could be used by the occupational health team at the likes of conferences, workshops and training sessions.

The content was built on the insight that first-hand accounts from people who had actually worked in the industry were the most effective was to convey the message to managers and staff. Therefore, the ORR recruited stonemason and silicosis sufferer Glyn Jones.

The heart of the campaign was a two-minute video uploaded on YouTube, while a shorter (40-second) film was seeded on Twitter.

Broad-brush approach

The campaign didn't limit itself to targeting only ORR stakeholders, but was also used as an educational tool for staff and specialists outside the ORR who might benefit from the information. This more mainstream audience could, for example, be workers in the construction industry who would not typically be privy to transport-sector comms, but who could benefit from information on silicosis and hand-arm vibration syndrome.

It was also agreed that organisations including the Health and Safety Executive could carry the ORR-produced videos on their websites and share them via their own social channels.

Glyn's story

The two-minute video uses the story of Glyn Jones, a stonemason with 43 years' experience who developed silicosis as a result of his work.

"With the correct workplace control measures in place, this needn't happen to anyone else," the introductory on-screen text tells the viewer. The video cuts to Jones, who talks to camera and explains his predicament.

"Everybody knew about the dangers of [silica] dust, but not to the same extent as you know today," he explains. Jones tells of how his boss installed a bright searchlight that made the hitherto unseen presence and volume of dust apparent: "When you put the searchlight behind it, it looked like somebody had lit a giant bonfire."

In another video, Jones explains that "what you sow today by not having a mask on, or not having your glasses on, or wearing any safety provision, might not affect you now, but in 20 or 30 or, in my case, 40 years on, you are inheriting a deadly form of disease".

Pummeling expectations

The campaign's impact was significant, outstripping expectations. On Twitter, the video has to date received 13,700 impressions, 2,400 views, 33 retweets and 25 likes, which the ORR said were "very high figures" for its "social-media materials". On YouTube, the video has been viewed more than 300 times.

These figures do not include the views or social traffic generated by the HSE's promotion of the content.

Meanwhile, the ORR's specialist occupational health team has started using the videos in training sessions, while the trade press has expressed an interest in running stories on the initiative.

Russell Grossman, ORR director of communications, said: "We’re committed to protecting the interests of everyone who works on the railway as well as passengers.

"Silicosis and hand-arm vibration syndrome are life-limiting conditions, and the comms team have been able to assist our specialists in their vital work of educating people about staying healthy at work."


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