The importance of getting your message across

Posted on: 01/11/2016   By: Lee Rance

One of the most important parts of any health and safety programme is communication. You may have all the policies, procedures and risk assessments in place but unless they are communicated to your employees effectively they are not worth the paper they are printed on. Do not just rely on employees reading a sheet and understanding the contents.

Legislation requires employers to provide sufficient and appropriate information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure health and safety at work.

Workplaces where employees are involved in taking decisions about health and safety are safer and healthier. Employees influence health and safety through their own actions. They are often the best people to understand the risks in their workplace. Talking, listening and co-operating with each other can help to:

  • identify joint solutions to problems;
  • develop a positive health and safety culture where risks are managed sensibly;
  • reduce accidents and ill health, plus their related costs to your business;
  • bring about improvements in overall efficiency, quality and productivity;
  • meet customer demands and maintain credibility; and
  • comply with legal requirements.

People who feel valued and involved in decision-making play a big part in a high-performing workplace. Empowering the workforce, giving them the right skills, and getting them involved in making decisions shows them that their health, safety and well-being is taken seriously. They raise concerns and offer solutions.

Other benefits include:

  • lower accident rates;
  • a more positive health and safety climate;
  • greater awareness of workplace risks; and
  • better control of workplace risks.

Communication doesn’t always have to be formal but can also be informal. The type of communication used will often depend on the risks involved.

Formal communication    –  includes things like safety inductions, briefing memorandum, letters, training, health and safety policy, health and safety meetings.

Informal communication –  includes tool box talks / briefings, signs.

Having regular health and safety meetings with employees or an employee representative is a great way to keep employees involved in health and safety decisions. Include employees in risk assessments and the development of safe systems of work. Encourage employees to contribute or to suggest ways of making their workplace safer.

It is important to ensure all information, forms, documents, registers are available to all staff, always tell them what you are going to inform them of and why. Always record the names of staff and what information has been given, and always have attendees sign to say they have received and understood the information.

Communication is key to achieving success in health and safety management.

Until next time.

Lee Rance