Using Story to Create an AWESOME Safety Culture🦺

The Digital Tradie Podcast | Episode 7

G’day legends👍

Today, we’re diving into the world of safety – yes, I know, it sounds about as exciting as watching paint dry. But stick with me, I promise there’ll be laughs, some cringe-worthy moments, and maybe even a nugget of wisdom. So, grab your morning coffee (or arvo beer) and let’s get into it.

Oh and BIG thank you to the Australian Institute of Health and Safety for letting me roast their members.

1. The Thumbnail

So, there I was, staring at a sea of serious safety officers. And me, being the genius I am, thought, “Why not start with a laugh?” Bad move. I asked the crowd, “Who knows what a thumbnail is? Not the one on your hand, but the YouTube kind.” Silence. Crickets. Tumbleweeds.

thinkLIST mockup thumbnail

I then instructed them to look annoyed for the photo – after all, annoyed safety officers would make the perfect thumbnail for my YouTube video titled “I Roasted Hundreds of Safety Officers.” Let’s just say their annoyed faces weren’t hard to come by. Thanks, Stuart, for capturing that moment of pure awkwardness.

2. Joking with Safety Officers – Big Mistake

Here’s a tip: if you ever want to feel like a complete idiot, tell a joke about safety procedures to safety officers. My opening line? “How many safety officers does it take to change a light bulb? None, because it’s knock-off time by the time the risk assessment is finished.”

Cue the frosty reception. I’ve never seen so many blank stares in my life. Lesson learned: safety officers don’t mess around with light bulb jokes.

If a washed-up tradie like me can do it, so can you.

Dave List

3. The Band-Aid Saga

A while back, I cut my finger on a job site – nothing major, just a tiny nick. So, I went to find the safety officer to report it. Turns out, he was “in the Act” with Liz. Now, get your minds out of the gutter – they were stitching harnesses for confined spaces.

I waited, finger bleeding, while they were deep in their safety shenanigans. Eventually, I patched myself up with an out-of-date Band-Aid. The things we do in the name of safety, right?

4. My YouTube Journey

I started a YouTube channel called ThinkLIST. Initially, I made videos about tiny tech tips – you know, riveting stuff like “How To Open Command Prompt As Administrator” or “10 Things Outlook Can Do For You” Yeah, those videos flopped hard…

Then I switched to electrical content and BAM! The views started rolling in. The secret? Storytelling. Turns out, people love a good yarn, especially if it involves a tradie making a fool of himself.

The Hero’s Journey and ABT (And, But, Therefore)

I discovered storytelling techniques like the Hero’s Journey and the ABT framework. Here’s how it works:

  • AND: Sets the scene. “Rob put on his harness and climbed into the confined space.”
  • BUT: Introduces a problem. “But the stitching began to break.”
  • THEREFORE: Resolves the issue. “Therefore, Rob swung to a ledge and waited for help.”

Simple, yet powerful.

The ABT Storytelling Technique

5. Applying ABT to Safety: A Live Workshop

Now, let’s have some fun with ABT in a safety context. Imagine this hazard: getting hit by a car. Here’s how it could play out:

  • Hazard: Getting hit by a car.
  • Story: Dave knelt down to grease a valve. But as he stood up, a car zoomed by, nearly taking his head off. Therefore, his team decided to use traffic management at night.

See how much more impactful that is?

Personal Story: The Electric Shock Incident

Now, close your eyes and imagine you’re 21 again. You’re leading a project in the heart of the city. One day, you turn off your phone for a movie, only to find out later that a tradie got shocked and fell off a ladder because of a mistake you made. That apprentice was me. This incident crushed me, but it taught me the importance of safety storytelling.


Embrace storytelling! It’s your secret weapon in changing behaviors and improving safety cultures. And remember, if a washed-up tradie like me can do it, so can you.

Thanks for sticking around, and stay safe ya LEGEND! Cheers!

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David List

G'day ya LEGEND! I'm an Tradie of almost 20 years (sparky to be exact), who started to make videos on YouTube, TikTok and LinkedIn, as a way of passing on my knowledge. One thing lead to another and I realised I could make more impact helping Tradies with my own business. So, LIST Media and Trade Magnet were born! Helping Tradies Convert with Online Content.

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