Why Communication is So Important for Health and Safety
The best plans in the world can still fail because of communication; either a total lack of it, or miscommunication when meanings are lost and what is said is misconstrued or received incorrectly. Therefore, effective communication needs to be given just as much time and attention as the actual plan itself, as there is a high probability of failure if the communication element is ignored or not enough resources are allocated to it.
The topic of health and safety is certainly no different. A lack of clear communication can not only hinder the unmitigated implementation of a health and safety culture, but can also end up contributing significantly to a dangerous workplace where accidents and illnesses occur more frequently.
What Communication is Required?
When it comes to devising health and safety plans, communication should actually begin before there is a need for manager's decisions to be communicated down to staff members. It should start with involving workers in the hazard analysis process and what they identify to be the most pressing risks to their safety and health, as they are the ones who work on the "shop floor" all day and will be the ones who have a greater understanding of the various dangers which currently exist and that management may not even be aware of. Workers and employees need to be proactive when it comes to health and safety, bringing issues to the attention of management rather than waiting for them to discover it and introduce changes.
The Need for Effective Communication
Once managers have made the decision to change a way of working or modify/change machinery then it is vitally important that they communicate these alterations to staff members as they will need to know what is expected of them in terms of working in a different way. It will also be useful to take the time to explain why such changes have been necessary, as this should assist with overcoming a lot of objections and resistance to change in the workplace.
Without suitable communication the transition to a different, safer way of working can become anything from a slightly longer process to out-and-out chaos if some employees are working in the original way whilst others work in the new. Production rates can be hit if equipment is changed and operatives are not given training in how to use the machinery in an optimal manner. In fact, it can actually be more dangerous than before if operatives have not been trained ahead of operating new or modified equipment, which ironically goes against the whole reason for making the changes in the first place. It is imperative that appropriate health and safety training is provided which has been updated and incorporates any changes that have been made to the workplace or the tasks being conducted by employees.
Communication and Organising
Communication is also essential when it comes to organising which is another significant part of health and safety. Without thorough organisation, things can get missed or not planned completely enough, which again puts health, wellbeing and potentially even lives at risk.