Raising awareness of new legislation

The occupational Health and Safety Act requires that most Ontario workplaces with 20 or more employees establish a joint health and safety committee.More recent provincial legislation requires that at least two committee members, one representing management and one representing the employees,...

The occupational Health and Safety Act requires that most Ontario workplaces with 20 or more employees establish a joint health and safety committee.

More recent provincial legislation requires that at least two committee members, one representing management and one representing the employees, complete a Core Certification Training program.

The program is administered by the Workplace Health and Safety Agency, a bipartite organization co-chaired by representatives from management and labor.

Awareness

The challenge for The Direct Solutions Group was to create awareness of the agency and the legislation, generate inquiries for the health and safety training program, and, at the same time, create cross-over identification of safety hazards with white-collar audiences.

To generate awareness of the Workplace Health and Safety Agency and the legislation, we targetted Ontario executives, managers and employees at all workplaces in Ontario with 20 or more employees, with the exception of federally regulated industries which are exempt from the legislation.

For training program enquiries, the target was more specific – one senior executive/owner and one employee representative from each company.

There was little to no awareness in the marketplace of the agency, joint health and safety legislation, or the need for Core Certification Training.

In addition to building awareness of the Workplace Health and Safety Agency and the legislation, the multimedia program was projected to generate 4,000 enquiries (a 20% response rate).

There were a number of obstacles to achieving these objectives.

The recessionary business environment promised indifference or resistance on behalf of many businesses since they are required to fund the training cost, as well as pay the employee’s salary during the training period.

The campaign had to overcome:

- Companies trying to delay/ avoid their obligation to fund the training program with money and human resources, given the recessionary economic climate;

- A misconception within non-industrialized/white-collar work environments that health and safety issues concern only industrialized/blue-collar businesses.

Rapid succession

Direct mail, billboards and newspaper advertising were timed for launch in rapid succession.

Newspapers and billboards with a 1-800 number were used to build awareness and generate enquiries from the general public. Direct mail reached the different audiences with targetted creative.

A multi-wave campaign was chosen as the best strategy to break through to senior decision-makers who might be indifferent to the program.

Wave One built awareness of legislation concerning joint health and safety committees and Core Certification Training among workplace managers/owners and urged them to establish a joint health and safety committee if one did not already exist.

Wave Two provided additional information concerning Core Certification Training to the managers/ owners, to be passed along to the joint health and safety committee.

Directly to committee

Wave Three provided similar information directly to the joint health and safety committee.

All three waves incorporated a direct response element.

Creatively, copy was positioned differently for each constituent audience.

Letters to senior executives reinforced the financial costs of workplace health issues (the cost of compensation) and identified the legal consequences of non-compliance.

Middle and union management were advised of their rights and responsibilities under the Occupational Health & Safety Act.

Results

Telephone enquiries to date: 8,869

Fax/mail enquiries to date: 5,545

Total enquiries to date: 14,414 or 360% of the target.

Paul Allamby is general manager of The Direct Solutions Group, a Padulo Advertising company in Toronto.