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Communicating Workplace Safety

More than ever before, occupational health and safety has become a major priority for almost every New Zealand workplace.

Organisations must, by law, ensure that their employees are adequately trained to perform at their job in the safest way possible and that particular occupational health and safety policies are adhered to.

Depending on the organisation, the employees involved, the information that is to be communicated – there is a multitude of different communication pathways that can be taken to deliver a message of workplace safety. It can be as simple as an OSH trainer standing in front of a group, or perhaps a group discussion, or a role play.  Video support, independently or within a PowerPoint presentation, can be used as either the main training tool or as an aid to reinforce the spoken message.

Unfortunately, a topic such as workplace safety can quite often fall on deaf ears.  For some people, the thought of discussing manual handling risks or reporting near misses with a manager or colleague would be about as exciting as watching paint dry. It may take a serious injury or fatality to ultimately alter the mindset of an individual or even the culture of an organisation.

Incorporating video into a health & safety or induction training session can provide a range of benefits:

1. Continuity of the message – Whether it is the induction of new staff, or conducting refresher training for existing employees, using video to deliver the message will ensure that every trainee receives exactly the same message, the same way, an important component to an organisation’s ability to to comply with legislation and achieve a healthy and safe environment.

2. A picture tells a thousand words. In most instances, video can deliver a message far more efficiently and effectively than the spoken word alone, especially when trying to describe a particular action or technique.  Time is a precious commodity nowadays. Any opportunity to communicate a message more efficiently will always have a positive effect on the workplace.

3. Most importantly, video does an excellent job of conveying emotion. If the intention is to send home a message of great importance, the ability to tap into people’s emotions can be an excellent strategy. A message or idea is more likely to be remembered if it has impact. As witnessed now on many TV advertising campaigns – whether it be for safety at work, anti smoking, or safe driving – “shock value” is one approach often used to ensure the audience receives the message.

As an example, an arresting, memorable and high-impact video for an engineering company's induction programme for all contractors and employees, or just those working on a specific project would:

- engage all inductees whether they be labourers or qualified engineers.
- be 10-15min duration in total.
- deliver greater consistency in delivery of the company's Health & Safety message at every induction session.
After watching the video viewer would be able to understand and remember the 2 key messages:
- to consider safety before all other considerations.
- what the consequences of not adhering to the rules can be.