Bad acting. Groovy hairstyles. Abominable dialogue.
The training videos in this gallery are light years from being Oscar-caliber, but they'd be perfect fodder for "Mystery Science Theater 3000." Still, they're not completely without merit, as the safety lessons hold up surprisingly well under the test of time (well, some of them do).
A few of the timeless safety lessons:
- "Be careless for a moment, spend a lifetime with the blues."
- File cabinets are harmless-looking – "but so is the rear end of a mule."
- "Just because the sun is shining and the weather is warm doesn't mean the water is right for swimming."
Clink on the link below to advance to the first video, and enjoy!
'Shake Hands with Danger'
In the pantheon of bad training videos, “Shake Hands with Danger” has few peers. It boasts all the requisite elements – wooden acting, brutally bad dialogue and awesome accident simulations – plus a few creative twists that truly make this video world-class.
Much like “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” uses the music of the Ooompa Loompas to convey important life messages, this Caterpillar safety video uses the lyrics of a catchy country-western song to teach viewers about the hazards of operating and maintaining earthmoving machines.
“Shake hands with danger,” the narrator croons, “meet a guy who ought to know. I used to laugh at safety, now they call me ‘Three-Finger Joe.’”
If you’re having trouble getting through to one of your workers, maybe it’s time to break out your acoustic guitar and motivate him or her through the power of (bad) song:
Shake hands with danger, find it anywhere you choose. Be careless for a moment, spend a lifetime with the blues.
Shake hands with danger, take a chance that you won’t fall. You’ll save yourself a minute, but you may damn well lose it all.
By the way, if this song gets stuck in your head for the rest of the day – you're welcome.
'Safety: It's Your Responsibility'
In a 1982 U.S. Postal Service training video, a series of awkwardly dramatized scenarios makes a timeless point: that front-line supervisors play a key role in promoting and maintaining workplace safety.
“As a postal supervisor, you’re supposed to set good examples, especially toward safety,” the narrator declares in a grave tone. “Whatever you do, whatever you say, greatly influences your employees. And supervisors who make exceptions to safety rules – regardless of the reasons – are asking for trouble, directly or indirectly.”
'Thank You, Safety Sue'
Is it a struggle to get your workers to pay attention to critical safety messages? Perhaps what you need is a scantily clad safety spokeswoman – like “Safety Sue.”
This shockingly bad video, produced by the Department of Defense in 1977, titillates and educates viewers with the help of Safety Sue, a busty brunette who appears in a tree to teach three beer-guzzling galoots about the dangers of swimming in cold water.
You might want to watch this one with your office door closed.
Horrendous acting, contrived dialogue and awkward interactions are the hallmarks of bad training videos, and this U.S. Army film from 1950 delivers those in spades.
The video is the surreal story of a guitar-strumming soldier whose body-odor problem is upsetting his bunkmates, who decide to teach him about the importance of personal hygiene through (bad) song.
Here’s one of the timeless musical lessons:
You had no teeth in your infancy, and you’ll still have none in the infantry. If you don’t take care of your teeth and gums, you’ll wish you had when a toothache comes.
By virtue of all the horseplay and group singing in the shower, few training videos will make you as uncomfortable as this one.
'Supervising Women Workers'
Fun fact: While female workers present their fair share of challenges, they can be “surprisingly good producers” – as long as you speak slowly and use simple words that their small brains can comprehend.
That’s just one of the many tips for supervisors in this sexist and condescending training film commissioned by the former U.S. Office of Education’s Division of Visual Aids.
“Women scare me,” foreman Joe admits to his boss. “At least they do in a factory.”
But Joe’s boss assures him that while women in the workforce bring “some new and different problems,” “the broad principles involved in the supervision of men apply equally well in the supervision of women.”
“Women workers don’t mind routine, repetitive work, and they’re particularly good at work that requires high finger dexterity or an unusual sense of accuracy,” his boss explains.
At the time that this video was produced (1944), millions of women were shedding their cooking aprons and entering the manufacturing workforce to support America’s involvement in World War 2. While the appearance of these strange, mysterious creatures must have been a shock to their male foremen and supervisors (in one scene, a foreman struggles to persuade a female drill-press operator to don her “safety cap”), thankfully there were training videos such as this one to help them keep these pretty little ladies in line.
'Will You Be Here Tomorrow?'
“You never can tell what’s going to happen,” says a worker in the opening of this safety video, which feels more like a low-budget slasher film. “So you always have to be thinking about what could happen.”
What could happen? Well, you could be crushed in a trash compactor. Or you could be impaled by a steel rod after falling from a precariously positioned ladder. Or you could end up with a nail in your eye after taking a careless swing with a hammer. Or your forklift could tumble off the bed of a moving truck.
If you can get past the spectacular explosions, squirting blood and workers writhing in agony, this horrific 1998 training film by Educational Resources offers a timeless message: “If you come on the job halfway asleep, you’re gonna get hurt.”
“You must begin your workday everyday with an attitude that I’m going to do the best possible job I can, that I’m going to do it in the safest manner I can,” one worker says.
His one-armed co-worker probably wishes that he’d taken his advice.
This 1997 MSHA video on hazard recognition and first aid feels older than it really is – perhaps because of the rough editing and low production quality. While the content is good, the acting is predictably bad, and the scenario is ridiculous.
The interaction between the competent worker and the idiot worker produces some funny lines, my favorite being, “What do I need gloves for?” I also love when he tells the injured worker, “You should see your leg! It is unbelievable!”
'Safety in Offices'
"For some strange reason,” the narrator of this video says, “people seem to consider office work as being free of any danger. What could happen to anyone working behind a nice, safe desk?”
Well, as this awful 1944 U.S. Navy training video definitively proves, office environments are riddled with safety hazards – from “typewriter bites girl” to “desk traps man.”
“Now let’s take file cabinets,” the narrator says. “Harmless-looking things aren’t they? Yes, harmless looking – but so is the rear end of a mule.”
'Shake Hands with Danger' (Remix)
LoadingReadyRun, a comedy troupe and video-production studio in British Columbia, edited the cult-classic "Shake Hands with with Danger" video, gave it a funky backbeat and boiled it down to about four minutes (of pure awesomeness).
'A Safe Day'
Modern industry has blessed us with myriad safeguards, from wide sightlines in our vehicles to safety warning signs in our factories. But these safety measures don’t do us a lick of good if we don’t use our noggins and think about safety at all times.
That’s the theme of this classic film by the Jam Handy Organization, which points out that safety devices “are effective only when men think safely and use them.”
“Because he thinks about safety every minute, he eliminates danger to himself as well as others,” the narrator says of John Jones, the film's main character.
The awkward film makes another timeless point: "Safe thinking is just as important in the home as it is in the factory or out on the highway."