There are many reasons to work toward safer workplaces. First, it’s tragic that we injure and kill so many workers in Montana. Second, our state’s high rate of workplace injury is the greatest influencer of cost in Montana’s workers’ comp system. That is according to extensive work conducted by the Montana Department of Labor & Industry and LMAC, and supported by findings from national workers’ comp studies.
Which brings us to a simple question: “With all that on the line, how do we reduce injuries in our state?”
The solution is neither easy nor will it happen overnight. Work safety requires support from each company, each supervisor and each worker. Moreover, it requires personal commitment and vigilance. But a coordinated social change campaign can make a difference. British Columbia credits its 12-year campaign with preventing thousands of injuries and saving companies hundreds of millions of dollars in system-related costs. Like the most effective campaigns, it began by raising awareness and changing attitudes.
In 2009, WorkSafeMT began that process with a comprehensive attitudinal research study. We went on to raise awareness of the problem with a short film that was simulcast statewide, a content-rich website, a newspaper campaign and an extensive earned-media outreach. In 2010, we built on that foundation of awareness by working to shift attitudes. We began that process with a highly effective broadcast, online and outdoor campaign that promoted personal responsibility, along with a business-directed campaign that highlighted positive, difference-making companies.
In total, the 2010 marketing campaign reached more than 87 percent of the population of Montana and generated some 15 million impressions through online marketing and public relations efforts. In addition to the paid media, the campaign earned an additional $95,000 in free Public Service Announcement time and $250,000 in publicity—effectively leveraging our original investment by more than 40 percent.
Nearly 14,000 people used www.worksafemt.com as a resource during the campaign. Employers and safety professionals reported using the TV commercials and videos to help raise awareness of issues within their own workplaces. Most telling, an independent research study conducted after the campaign indicates that WorkSafeMT is on the right track. There was a 50 percent increase in the number of people who believe Montana is less safe than other states and an 18 percent increase in the number of people who consider work safety to be as, or more, important than benefits, fair pay and job security.
Clearly, we’re on the right path. But these early gains are fragile ones. Creating social change requires an investment of time and money. A six-week, statewide campaign on TV, radio, outdoor and Web requires about $350,000 in media money alone. Producing powerful creative that will get picked up for additional PSA runs requires an investment of around $150,000 per campaign.
Yes, those are big numbers. But they pale in comparison to the savings safer workplaces will generate. By industry council NCCI estimates, getting our workplace injury frequency rates in line with the rest of the country would equate to a $145 million savings for Montana—per year.
Download the 2009 Research Results Summary (PDF).
Download the 2010 Research Results Summary (PDF).