Communicating Safety in the Workplace

We all know that effective communication is an important part of ensuring a safe work environment in your organisation.  But do we really know if our communication is effective? Is there any feedback?  For instance you can put as many safety signs or hazard notices around your workplace as you like, but are people reading them? Do you know the message is getting out there?

It may be that English is a second language for many of the workers in your workplace – are these people being catered for?  Are you confident that the younger employees have received and understood the policies and procedures or are they afraid of asking a silly question?  A worker’s relationship with their other employees or management may prevent them from speaking up.  It may even be that they are not sure who they should be asking. 

Here is a little exercise you can try. Send out a short survey asking for feedback:  

  • Outline your company’s objectives and the nature of your commitment to safety.
  • Ask for the name of the person an employee would report an incident or a safety problem to. 
  • Ask if they know who they should contact if they are not satisfied that the problem is being dealt with.
  •  Ask if they have ever been approached to contribute to the solving of a problem.
  • Ask if they fully understand the nature and language of the questions you are asking.

You may find this exercise could identify some communication barriers you were unaware of and it just might be beneficial to the future delivery of policies and procedures.

OHS legislation in each state or territory calls for officers of the organisation to demonstrate they engage in consultation with employees, volunteers and contractors in the workplace on matters of safety and the management of risks.  Of course this does not mean just handing out some papers or seeking the opinions of employees. In fact one of the most popular training courses for managers and supervisors is how to consult with staff on safety matters.

But a survey is a quick way to identify if there are gaps in your current compliance with the law. It is also a great opportunity for employees to be involved by raising concerns, making recommendations, asking questions and being part of the problem solving process. 

Involving employees in the development of policies and procedures and including them in decision making will lead to increased loyalty and will make them more supportive of your organisation’s  goals and objectives which will inevitably lead to increased productivity and better staff morale.

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

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