In less than a decade, WorkSafeBC’s video production has evolved from a handful of cassette tapes to tens of millions of views online. Gordon Thorne, manager of product and program development, said WorkSafeBC started out distributing videos in the form of VHS tapes out of a bookstore.
The reach was limited. A study showed that after three years less than 800 tapes had been dispersed.
In 2006, WorkSafeBC made the switch online to YouTube.
“We saw an exponential jump in the number of people who were having access to our videos,” Thorne said.
Now after nearly 10 years, the channel has reached more than 25 million views and has more than 18,000 subscribers.
In 2014 alone, WorkSafeBC’s YouTube channel received more than three million views, with more than half of those views originating from Canada and the United States.
The content has evolved as well.
“We have made them shorter, more focused, more targeted, and we have really made use of social media to increase exposure to the content,” Thorne said.
The videos, produced in-house by the regulator’s audio visual team, have also gotten more creative and varied.
The team recently produced a video about the dangers of working around mobile equipment using tiny LEGO figures.
Thorne explained that not only does this help keep people’s attention but using the tiny figures allows the team to do shots to illustrate their point that would be extremely difficult on a full scale set. WorkSafeBC has also won awards and gotten television play with their innovative animation videos.
“One day I was watching ‘CSI’ and thought, ‘why can’t we do that kind of animation?'” said Thorne.
So the team produced a video showing asbestos fibres travelling into and destroying a workers’ lungs.
“I think we want to inform them, but I think we want to keep them interested as well,” Thorne said.
And the world has taken notice. Thorne said every year the team gets more than 200 requests to use content. Safety officials in Turkey, Korea, and Israel have all inquired about using the materials.
Often WorkSafeBC asks that the country provide translation for the videos and WorkSafeBC will put it up on a dedicated channel.
“It’s a great opportunity to be citizens of the world as well as serve our mandate here in British Columbia,” Thorne said. “When we can benefit workers elsewhere, why not?”
He explained that the team’s safety videos are also being implemented into multimedia packages with ebooks. And going forward, WorkSafeBC will continue to invest in its digital media capabilities. It currently has a safety video app that is widely used. Close to 40 per cent of views are from mobile devices.
“We want to go where they are and use what they are using,” Thorne said.