Communicating Safety Messages in the Construction Industry
No matter the industry and no matter the size of the company, safety should be one of the top priorities. This is perhaps most true in an industry like construction, where workers are exposed daily to multiple types of hazards.
Indeed, anything can happen at any time in a construction site, and accidents can lead to a lot of unpleasant consequences: property damage, injuries, different kinds of illnesses, and even loss of life.
All of these will have a negative impact on your company’s reputation and your people’s morale. It can also cost a lot of money in legal fees and compensation. Indeed, it’s a situation where no one wins.
This is why effective safety communication is a must in the construction industry. If your message comes across clearly, then it will be more easily accepted and understood. Of course, there are a lot of barriers that safety managers face. To overcome these barriers and communicate safety messages in the construction industry more effectively, consider these tips:
Espouse a Safety Culture Through Training
One of the best ways to communicate and make any message stick is to show that the subject matter, well, matters. With regards to health and safety, one way you can do this is to invest in health and safety training.
When you do this, it sends a strong message: workers being safe and healthy in the workplace is something important enough that you’re willing to put your money in for it. This can then help jumpstart a culture of safety among employees.
Remember that many people are looking for workplaces that value their well-being. By investing in health and safety training, you show that you care about your employees.
Sometimes, people tend to forget things. It doesn’t matter how long they’ve known or done something; when forgetfulness strikes, it strikes and it can be deadly. To help people remember health and safety messages, it can be helpful to post signages.
A construction site has many areas where signs can be put up with maximum exposure. These include break rooms, around or near equipment, and preparation areas. You can also place signages in storage or supply rooms.
The key is to make the signs and reminders friendly and easy enough to understand. Don’t cram too many words into them, but rather make them snappy or witty. Coupled with health and safety training, signages can help underscore your message better.
Consider Non-Native English Speakers
New Zealand is home to a great number of varied peoples and cultures. Simply put, there may be workers in your construction site who do not speak or understand English very well. This language barrier is one of the biggest obstacles in effectively communicating health and safety in the workplace.
Thus, you need to put in more effort in bridging this gap. Offer ways for non-English speakers to feel involved, thus promoting both diversity and inclusion. Some methods include using practical demonstrations and working with translators.
You can also conduct regular follow-up meetings to make sure that everyone is up to speed. Encourage your staff to ask questions, so that you can clear up any confusion with regards to policies, health information, and other matters related to work safety on-site.
Simplify Safety Information
In relation to the previous point, it’s important to make safety information and other related messages as simple as possible. Be as clear and concise as possible to make things easier to understand.
Remember that in the construction industry, there are already plenty of details that are complex in nature. From instructions on how to operate machinery to techniques in identifying hazardous materials and substances, construction professionals already have a lot in their mind.
As such, it’s best to distil your health and safety messages down to their purest forms. This way, people won’t get lost in complicated and too much information. It’s also crucial to keep things short. The acronym TL;DR—too long; didn’t read—comes to mind. Be succinct, if you don’t want workers to become confused about what you mean.
Train Supervisors and Managers in Communication
There are times when the message is constructed clearly and completely, but the messenger isn’t a good communicator. This can cause another gap in communicating and underscoring health and safety in the workplace.
To combat this, make sure that construction site supervisors or managers are well-trained in the art of communication. This way, they will be able to get what should be said across, be it about safety or other matters in the workplace.
In addition, the method of communication is also crucial. While email can be an effective medium for many office workers, it may not be as effective for construction professionals in the field. Make sure that supervisors and managers know which method is the most suitable based on the information you want to convey.
Last but certainly not least, communicating safety messages means being open to receiving messages from everyone in the team. Workers must feel confident in expressing any safety issues, knowing that they will be heard and addressed.
At the same time, you should also strive to be honest. If there’s bad news, deliver them as soon as possible without glossing over any details. Be straightforward, but also offer suggestions and ask for ideas to help prevent or minimise future incidents.
With effective safety communication within the construction industry, there will be reduced risks and fewer safety incidents. Ultimately, this results in higher productivity and better quality of life in and out of work. Consider the factors above to help you achieve these worthwhile goals.