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Explicit Canadian workplace safety ads pulled from TV due to Christmas season

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Controversial and explicit Canadian workplace safety ads have been pulled from television, and paper ads from some bus shelters for the Christmas season. However, the ads will return to air in January.

"It's totally erroneous to suggest we're pulling anything," chairman of the Workplace Safety and Information Board of Ontario, Steve Mahoney said. "Our plan from Day 1 was to stop the ads around the middle of December when most of the advertising that's in the media is focused on Christmas and purchasing gifts. We just didn't want to be competing with all that stuff."

In one of the TV ads a woman accidentally slips on grease on the floor and a large steaming pot falls onto her face, and she starts screaming to death. The ads end with the message "There really are no accidents".

A paper ads shows a construction worker who is in a pool of blood with a forklift operation manual stuck in his chest. Another with a man who is slit by a "Danger" sign with his leg stuck in a machine. They show the messages: "Lack of training can kill" and the other "Ignoring safety procedures can kill".

"The critics amount to about 25 per cent rating, and I'm delighted they're upset about the ads because I wouldn't want anyone to enjoy watching them."

The videos have been viewed more than 70,000 times on the Board's website and are gaining large amounts of views on YouTube.

The transit authorities of Hamilton and Mississauga will show modified advertisements. The transit authority of Guelph will show the ads in bus shelters, but the transit authority of Windsor will not because of the graphic nature.

"We're not against workplace safety, but this is too graphic," said Caroline Postma, chair of the Transit Windsor board.

Mississauga city councillour Carolyn Parrish said: "My son-in-law was telling me that they shouldn't be on in prime time because when [my grandson] watches them he just about bursts into tear. Now he follows his mom around the kitchen to make sure she doesn't spill grease. And he's only four. There's too much of a chance that ... people are really badly affected by it, and can't really do anything about it anyway." She suggested the ads only be aired to workers with the jobs shown in the commercials.

Mahoney changed the earlier promise to air the ads only after 8:00pm to after 9:00pm at last nights meeting with Mississauga city council.

Mahoney said the commercials and paper ads are not "too graphic at all". And they are "absolutely appropriate and they're doing what they're intended to do, they're creating what I call a water cooler topic of conversation."

Ninety-eight Canadian workers so far have been killed on the job this year.

Sources