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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.

Selected Courses

Please see below for a selection of health and safety courses and qualifications which you may be interested in:

NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is the flagship NEBOSH qualification, and is the first UK vocational qualification to be developed specifically for health and safety professionals.

The NEBOSH National Diploma provides the core health and safety knowledge (transferable across industry, commerce and the public sector) which, combined with understanding and appropriate application, underpins the competent performance of an occupational health and safety practitioner.

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NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH General Certificate is one of the most popular and widely-held health and safety qualifications in the UK. It is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who require an understanding of general health and safety issues.

The NEBOSH General Certificate covers the main legal requirements for health and safety in the UK, along with the identification and control of workplace hazards, and the practical application of this knowledge. The general content of the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus means it is suitable and relevant for those working in virtually any industry, and is often used as a solid foundation for those going on to further study and specialising in a particular area such as construction site health and safety or fire safety.

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IOSH Managing Safely Course

The IOSH Managing Safely course is designed for managers and supervisors of organisations in virtually all industry sectors, in order to give them all they need to know to effectively manage health and safety in the workplace.

Recently updated, the new high impact programme covers key health and safety issues, and includes references to international case studies.

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CITB Site Management SMSTS Course

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) is one of the most popular health and safety training courses, and is intended for construction site managers, project managers and senior supervisors, as well as proprietors of smaller companies.

Client-based personnel would also benefit from attending the SMSTS course.

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CITB Health and Safety Awareness Course

This course is for those who have entered, or are about to enter, the construction and civil engineering industry as a member of the workforce to help them understand the potential hazards that they face at work on site. It aims to provide a practical summary of health and safety, welfare and environmental health and safety issues.

The course also allows delegates to identify their individual responsibilities for looking after themselves and others, what the employer's duties are and what should be done if they think anyone's health and safety is being put at risk.

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