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Cemex UK uses storytelling as a method to improve health and safety

Published by , Editor - Hydrocarbon Engineering
World Cement,

Storytelling is one of the most effective ways of communicating with each other and this powerful tool is the key to a new health and safety training programme carried out by Cemex UK. The programme uses the skills and techniques employed by the charity Cardboard Citizens, which uses theatre and storytelling to engage homeless people and help them to change attitudes and develop confidence.

The number one health and safety rule at Cemex is to ‘look after yourself and each other’. The new training aims to enable managers and supervisors to pass on this and other health and safety messages in an engaging way. Persuasive storytelling is about taking information and building it into a memorable tale, often using personal experiences related to relevant real life experiences. In this way, the audience relates to and remembers it. The facilitators of Cardboard Citizens worked with groups of 20 Cemex employees at five workshops to improve the individuals’ storytelling and communication skills. This involved helping them to project their personalities and showing them how to pace a story with pauses and gestures.

“People are very comfortable at telling everyday anecdotes with energy and enthusiasm, but lose this vitality and passion when delivering a corporate message. In this case, a very important message that can save a life,” said Adrian Jackson, Artistic Director and Founder of Cardboard Citizens.

Andy Taylor, Health and Safety Director at Cemex UK, also commented on the new health and safety training: “This is a truly innovative way of passing on our very important health and safety messages and ensuring we are the best for our employees. Year-on-year, the number of incidents is decreasing and our challenge is ensuring we engage with all our employees to reduce the incidents to zero. Storytelling can help to illustrate to team members how important it is to remember our number one safety essential, to look out for each other and encourage each other to work safely in what can be very hazardous conditions.”

Recently, Cardboard Citizens has coached three Cemex employees in the skills required to deliver this training. It is intended that these employees will support Cardboard Citizens with further workshop sessions in 2014, helping to embed the principles of persuasive storytelling throughout the business.

Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

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