Do cave paintings reveal the origins of the Health and Safety user manual?

Recent investigations into the famous Lascaux cave paintings in France suggest the images might actually be the first ever Health and Safety manual. This discovery could mean the professions of both Technical Author and Health and Safety Officer began significantly earlier than is commonly believed.

A paper released today by Professor Miriam Webster of the Université de Riz Lacroix proposes the paintings actually describe the safe hunting and handling procedures for livestock. Professor Webster said in an interview for Le Figaro:

When I saw the outline of a hand on the cave wall, it suddenly struck me how similar it was to the hand symbol we see around us on safety signs today.

Safety sign from cave painting Flickr image: BotheredByBees

Modern day hand safety sign

Although hi viz jackets and safety goggles were obviously not around in those days, you can make out some primitive safety equipment in some of the hunting scenes.

Hunting scene containing perhaps a primitive form of safety barrier? Flickr image: Chico Ferreira

Whether the creators used any form of primitive help authoring tool seems unlikely, but it will surely give a boost to the technical communication profession to know they are perhaps one of the oldest professions in the world.


One Comment

Virginia Lynch

I just got the April Fool’s joke from reading this article and have posted a link to your article in my LinkedIn group for technical writers so that others can share a laugh.

If anyone wants to join my group in LinkedIn, the group is called ‘’.

Happy (belated) April Fool’s Day!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.