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Monopoly-inspired campaign is a game changer for safety

December 6, 2022
Ruth Doris
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Our client, Thungela came to us with an idea for a safety campaign. Thungela - which means "to ignite” in isiZulu - wanted to provide a spark of fun and creativity while improving safety awareness across its workforce.

The mining company’s HSE leadership had come up with a concept for a safety awareness campaign modelled on the board game Monopoly. The idea – Thunopoly - came from a conversation between Robyn McEvoy - Safety Manager ORM and Systems - and Carina Venter, Executive Head of Safety, Health and Environment.

Robyn and Carina believed that one global awareness day was not enough to have an impact on behaviours and routines. They identified the fourth quarter of the year running into January as a timeframe that, in mining, typically had higher rates of injuries and incidents.

Frustrated with the progress of safety awareness, Carina was looking for a fun, interactive process to be used to raise awareness and create engagement with operational leadership and discipline - something similar to the board game Monopoly with lots of action cards and movement.

With the board game as her guide, Robyn brought her ideas to Jincom to develop the game, which would run for 10 weeks during the high-risk period from November to January.

Jincom's team of writers, illustrators, designers and animators worked on refining the idea and bringing it to life for Thungela’s 7,500-strong workforce -  comprising employees and contractors. 

Robyn said Jincom created something “that was very unique to Thungela.” The campaign was significant as this was the company’s first one following Thungela’s listing on the JSE (Johannesburg Stock Exchange) in June 2021. 

“It was the first time we were stepping out as Thungela. And so being on point with branding was important for us. And Jincom really did step up with the designs and the concept support in creating that for us.”

Jincom developed the artwork and design elements using highly visual illustrations - including 16 original characters based on each team leader. Animated video and gamification made the game engaging and interactive.

Each team had a board and accessories, including action cards, stickers, icons and tokens, scorecards, discussion cards and dice, and all elements were customised to the site’s operation. 

How Thunopoly worked:

The eight teams were given weekly challenges and selected activity cards to complete tasks or activities. These were a mix of fun and serious and examples include:

  • Clear your schedule: Team leaders clear their schedule and go out in the field with their teams
  • Lights, camera, action: The team was tasked with creating a 1 to 2-minute video clip, shot on a mobile phone, that showed the importance of any Critical Control or Eyethu (Our) Rule
  • Cross Pollinator cards (two types): A safety officer or team from one team joins another team for 2 days
  • Chill: No action
  • Lessons Learned: A safety officer in your team must research an incident from another mining organisation and highlight key relevant learnings
  • Pause and reflect: The team spends 2 minutes at the start of each day reflecting on their safety journey 
  • Safety Poet: Any member of the team must write a short poem about the importance of safety in their operations

Teams earned points in the form of bonus PPE stickers by completing specific tasks, including safety officer participation, good quality high-risk work verification and critical control monitoring. 

Each week, a team member rolled the dice and moved their character on the board to identify a focus topic for the week: for example, Critical Controls, High Potential Hazards and Standards.

Just like in Monopoly, players could be 'sent to Jail’ for failures to adhere to safety rules such as alerts not being sent out within specified timeframes.

Each operation had a customised game, including board and action cards.


A significant benefit of Thunopoly was when teams visited other operations. Robyn explained how that “cross-pollination” allowed people to see how another operation works and "become that other set of eyes." She added that it created “a culture of learning from each other.”

Competitive edge

The “slight edge of competition” between operations helped to drive engagement. “Everybody loves to win. So creating that competition between operations is also a nice way to be able to say, ‘we're encouraging the right behaviours’ and then when you reward people, they can see that reflected on the scorecard.”

A Teams Dashboard showed the points earned each week

Characters leading the teams

People enjoyed the characters based on team leaders and Robyn explained that for frontline operators it created a more personal connection to see their general manager as a character in the game.

The results of the campaign show a greater awareness and understanding of safety and that employees were being empowered to get involved in identifying hazards and being part of solutions to make their workplace safer.

Consistent messaging

Another benefit of Thunopoly was to simplify the messaging around safety and make it consistent across operations.

Marked improvement was noticed in routines run by team leaders “how were they going out and interacting with their teams, what they were finding and actioning.”

During the Thunopoly campaign, the following results were recorded: 

  • 35 risk owners addressed risks during 'risk owner challenge'
  • 96 action cards incl. 2 surprise bonus cards on gender-based violence and mining fatalities
  • 33 Critical Control videos, 45 poems and 175 photos were submitted
  • 15 'jail' visits which encouraged learning and sharing 
  • 415 high potential hazards were identified 
  • 81% increase in ‘unsafes’ - incidents identified and addressed - during the period compared to the previous year
  • 45,510 comments were loaded on the system
  • 1500-2500 comments read each week by Thungela’s Executive Committee 

Positive impact

The Thunopoly project demonstrated how non-traditional HSE engagement can have a positive impact on safety performance.

The campaign had a real impact on engagement and interactions across functions and operations, working towards Thungela’s goal of making sure that all workers go home safely to their families and gain renewed energy and awareness of workplace safety culture.

Robyn shared how Thunopoly was successful in engaging employees and they were looking forward to getting involved in this year’s safety initiative.

This year, Thungela is building on its worker engagement with Thunopoly with a Formula 1-inspired campaign called F1 Safety Championship – a simplified version of Thunopoly. It uses many of the same tools, such as action cards where teams compete for the Thungela Safety Champions Trophy with challenges focusing on six essentials: job planning, supervision, training and competency, tools and equipment, work area and management of change.

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