Electrical safety campaign gets spark from behavioural insights

We worked with the Better Regulation Division (BRD) of NSW Customer Service on an electrical safety campaign. In this interview we speak with Mikael Kjaerbye, Acting Manager for Community and Industry Engagement at BRD about how behavioural insights improved safety messages. 

Last updated: 06 July 2021

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You have recently launched your Electrical Safety campaign. Can you give us a quick overview of the behavioural challenge the campaign is addressing?

The Electrical Safety Awareness campaign was launched in response to numerous deaths and serious injuries caused by electrical faults in people’s homes in NSW. Fire & Rescue NSW statistics show that 40% of the 4,500 house fires in NSW each year are caused by electrical faults and appliances. These fires, death and injuries could have been prevented by a licensed electrician checking the electrical wiring and installing safety switches.

The campaign was developed as a co-designed project with other government departments and close to 20 industry partners who came together to develop solutions in a series of workshops over 12 months.

The campaign had three aims:

  1. highlight the importance of installing safety switches in all homes
  2. check existing safety switches (if already installed)
  3. encourage people to always use a licensed electrician to do electrical work.

The campaign is continuing, and we hope to see an increased number of safety switches installed, less electrical do-it-yourself work being performed, and consequently fewer deaths, injuries and house fires caused by electrical faults.

What are the behavioural insights principles incorporated in the campaign? How did behavioural insights improve the campaign?  

We (the Electrical Safety project team) did some research into the issues that residents face when they make choices about electrical safety in their homes. We found that many people have low levels of awareness about electrical safety switches. The research also showed that the cost of installing switches, as well as hiring a licensed electrician, were both major barriers to electrical safety.  

We worked with the Behavioural Insights Unit to make sure our messages incorporated behavioural insights principles. For example, by including urgency into our messages to make them persuasive and to make our instructions simple and concise.

The Behavioural Insights Unit also helped us workshop the campaign messages and delivery methods to consider the target audience’s Capability, Opportunity and Motivation factors (that is, the Com-B Framework).

Can you share your key ‘lessons learned’ for how behavioural insights can help government deliver better customer services?

The Behavioural Insight Unit was great in terms of helping the Electrical Safety project team to think more deeply about how to achieve behavioural change. The Unit was also generous in sharing resources and frameworks with the project team and provided advice on research questions, messaging and delivery methods. Their advice was practical, applicable and straight-forward.

I would recommend booking in a clinic interview to get some worthwhile insights into how to achieve behavioural change with your program or campaign.

How you can use this in your work

The NSW Behavioural Insights Unit works to increase NSW public sector confidence and  capability to use behavioural sciences and economics to improve citizen outcomes.

The Behavioural Insights Unit offers 30-minute clinics for NSW public servants who want advice on resolving a behavioural problem in customer service, policy or programs. We also provide guidance on testing solutions. Clinics are usually delivered online on Wednesdays 2pm-4pm. If you work in the NSW Government, book a clinic with the Behavioural Insights Unit today.

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