A safer workplace through industrial ethnography

Manufacturers of industrial safety equipment need to understand how their equipment is being used in the field (or in the factory) so they can make it better. Our filmed interviews were used to improve products, and the videos were shared with stakeholders and product management teams to inspire creativity.

The challenge

This global organisation came to us seeking a complete understanding of attitudes and behaviours surrounding Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) in the metal fabrication industry in Western Europe. They needed expertise in B2B research, not only to engage with safety managers and metal workers, but also gain a first hand understanding of the conditions they worked in, how workers interacted, worked with and stored their PPE, and ultimately appreciate attitudes and behaviour towards safety equipment.

The Breaking Blue solution

Our B2B research team arranged 20 visits to metal working companies (foundries, shipyards, steelworks, etc). We filmed interviews with safety managers, observed work and behaviours on the shop floor, and interviewed workers in situ. Through this ethnographic approach we witnessed first hand behaviours which otherwise would have gone overlooked, captured the attitudes of the workers, and their needs in this challenging environment.


Our video ethnography approach provided real breakthroughs in understanding at all levels of the organisation, enabling focused creativity in product design. They described our outputs as “the best use of video ethnography we have ever seen.”

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