Effective Workplace Safety Communication: Do it with Digital!

Workplace Safety Graphics

Workplace safety continues to be an increasingly high priority, especially among manufacturers. In fact, the 2017 National Safety Survey reports widespread top management support for promoting occupational safety – in part because of regulation, but also because a safe workplace positively impacts employee morale, productivity, and the bottom line.

Yet, this very same survey revealed concerns over safety program costs. Assuming money was no object, respondents overwhelmingly sought better ways to effectively broadcast their company’s commitment to (and the requirement for) a safe workplace, while looking for new ways to increase employee participation at all levels of their organization.

Many companies recognize that visual communication, especially digital signage systems, have the potential to be highly effective for safety messaging. Although many organizations have monitors placed throughout their corporate campus, they are often used for general employee communication, rather than being focused on driving safety awareness. The good news is that both goals can be accomplished by taking into consideration where screens are located and what content is playing.

When it comes to workplace safety strategies what matters most is customized content that is relevant and highly visual so that it will engage employees. The following provides a partial safety communication wish list derived from the National Safety Survey, along with tips on how to use digital signage and other visual communication to address each.

Better communication equipment enables people to work together to improve safety.
Safety communication is most effective when presented visually. But technology alone is not the answer. Content specific to your industry, company, and workforce that is strategically deployed throughout the shop floor, corporate offices, corridors, cafeterias and other common areas is most beneficial. Furthermore, it’s extremely important that at least one portion of your digital display always contains workplace safety content so that safety constantly remains top-of-mind.

Better training. Not more, but better.
Safety manuals, bulletin board postings and PowerPoint presentations may never completely disappear. However, they aren’t geared toward today’s workers – especially Millennials who were raised on visual communication. The good news is Millennials place a higher value on safety than any other generation. Therefore to make your safety training most effective, make sure your digital signage integrates videos, infographics, social media, and employee photos that demonstrate safe work practices. Such messaging drives healthy discussion and feedback.

Equally important, all postings should be brief, while not shortchanging the information. Think sound bites, not big bites. Your workers are used to 140-character Tweets – so incorporate them into your digital signage with such information as a “Safety Tip of the Day.” We’re not saying that classroom instruction no longer works. As a matter fact, digital signage is the perfect way to reinforce key takeaways from classroom sessions. 

Tap into your subject matter experts to get it right.
Specialists in ergonomics, safety, quality assurance, occupational health and emergency management have the knowledge and expertise to drive home your safety message. Invite them onto your content team so that they can suggest topics and promote training opportunities. Use your screens to introduce experts and let employees know how they can be reached. Don’t forget to include content on any related, association resources. Finally, make it fun! Include contests and on-screen quizzes to build safety awareness, and generate some healthy competition.

Increase employee feedback and recognition for doing the right thing.
Digital signage provides numerous opportunities for recognizing employees’ contributions to accident prevention, ISO 18001 certification, and other process improvements that enhance workplace safety.  Electronic display boards are also recommended to complement more traditional communications such as safety posters, event calendars, and newsletters. Whatever you display on digital signage can and should also be posted on your company’s internal web portal and social media channels for maximum coverage. Go for the visual. Show videos and photos of your outstanding individuals and teams who have excelled at safety practices. Employee recognition helps retain top talent and motivates them to do more and to do better, especially when it comes to protecting their safety and that of their workplace family.

Safety first, foremost and always.
More and more companies are recognizing the benefits of promoting workplace safety and the value of digital signage as a key communication tool to promote “safety first” memorably and effectively. You can do the same. It’s good for your employees and your business.

Barry Lee Cohen
November 7, 2017

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