A wise man once said, “It is not only important that you speak to be understood, but that you speak so as not to be misunderstood.”
There is a difference between the two, and speaking not to be misunderstood requires a response from the person or people you're addressing. When it comes to safety, other employees must acknowledge that they understand the procedures, policies, and rules in place as part of a larger effort to maintain a safe workplace.
Doing so helps lead to strong communication skills and creates tools that ensure all employees hear and fully understand key messages.
One example is the Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) and the meeting to discuss the JHA. It is critically important that each company develop a comprehensive JHA that pertains to their company and specific tasks—and that employees understand key details before performing their duties.
Communication while performing a task that has high risk exposure, such as working at height (read about scaffolding fall hazards) or in a confined space (grab our Best Practice Guide to Confined Spaces), is critical and should be thought out before the first direction or instruction is given. At this point, key safety professionals should thoroughly cover all the points on the JHA, assign each task to an employee and make sure they understand the task, the risks, and the mitigation. In doing so, all will know what to expect when the task is at hand.
Communication must happen if a strong safety culture is your company's goal!
Safety professionals should also discuss the signals that will be used if verbal communication is not feasible. Someone might have learned certain hand signals at prior jobs or in the military, but those may not necessarily be understood by all. The wrong hand signal can mean the difference between life and death, and communicating clearly and precisely helps effectively manage the risks faced by each task.
A safety sign can be one of these forms of communication (learn more about the importance of safety signs), and it can be used to alert, instruct, or warn others about hazards or directions to keep everyone out of harm’s way.
Communication is a key factor in creating and maintaining a strong safety culture. How many times have you seen something that wasn’t safe, or that you didn’t understand, and you decided not to ask a question or speak up? Speaking up can only enhance your company's safety culture.
Looking to develop a strong safety culture in your workplace? Graphic Produces offers on-site Compliance Assessment Services that include recommendations and best practices for keeping your workers safe.