Safety Communication: Better Employees, Boost the Bottom Line

Safety communication enhances employee performance and a company’s bottom line results in a number of ways. While diligent safety communication is perceived as a given for enterprises such as large-scale manufacturing and utilities, it is just as important and valuable for small companies in any field. Here are the key benefits of implementing or improving safety communication strategy and activity.

1. When companies communicate safety messages consistently, it creates an atmosphere of cooperation — sometimes replacing an attitude of “us versus them” that undermines employee engagement and fosters poor productivity. When employees feel their company cares about their safety, they gain confidence and enthusiasm. The bottom line of solid communication: greater productivity, less absenteeism and better employee retention. As any small or midsize business executive knows, these are big goals every company strives for but few attain.

2. Consistent reporting of key safety metrics, such as the number of injury-free days, keeps everyone’s “eye on the ball.” Any manufacturing facility or office is a blur of activity. When safety performance is invisible, people naturally focus on other things, which in terms of safety fosters carelessness that usually leads to safety incidents. The bottom line of solid communication: fewer incidents, fewer accidents and fewer insurance claims. In addition to improving profitability, these benefits serve to improve morale and job satisfaction, along the same lines of our first point.

3. A strong emergency response communication plan helps keep employees safe and minimizes the chance of catastrophic loss. In an emergency — accident, extreme weather event, security threat, etc. — well-executed safety communication can literally make the difference between life and death. Having clear safety procedures in place and the ability to communicate them digitally in real or near-real time to the entire on-site population over large digital screens, desktop monitors, wayfinding signage or handheld digital devices means that everyone inside and outside the facility is able to know what is happening and what they should do.

4. Safety training is accelerated and improved by using advanced safety communication techniques. Companies with a commitment to safety educate new employees and provide all employees — from summer interns to 30-year veterans — with intensive, ongoing safety training. Using digital media (desktop monitors, tablets, mobile phones, interactive wall screens, etc.) helps companies communicate safety messages visually and with a high level of interaction. It is well known that visual messages are easier for most people to grasp and retain than pure text. And today, with the proliferation of smart phones, our preference for imagery, video and “gamified” messaging are greater than ever. Companies attempting to execute safety training with printed policy manuals and wall posters alone are fighting an uphill battle that will only grow steeper over time. When employees are skilled in safety practices, they are more attentive in day-to-day activities and better prepared for emergency response. The bottom line of a cohesive, safety-conscious and safety-skilled workforce: greater efficiency, greater throughput and higher quality.Safety-Smile

Successful companies view safety as integral to bottom-line performance rather than some peripheral “program” or “initiative” stove-piped into a single department (or even a single individual). The most successful companies not only develop strong safety strategies and messages, they ensure the execution makes use of advanced safety communication platforms and techniques. Why? Because a great safety message that is not clearly received is like the proverbial tree that falls in the empty forest.

Author bio: As Vice President of Supply Chain Solutions at RMG Networks, Kerwin Everson is very familiar with how safety communication affects manufacturers. Everson’s goal is to educate companies on the value of visualizing real-time performance management to improve productivity and efficiency.

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