Workplace Communicator Blog

5 Mistakes that Sabotage your Safety Communication Success

Posted by Marie-Claire Ross on Mon, Mar 17, 2014

safety_communication_mistakesOne of the things I like about my job is consulting with safety professionals on how to improve their safety communication. 

I get to review monthly safety themes and safety articles for the company newsletter and proffer suggestions for improvement.  Often, a complete overhaul is required.

Safety professionals are great at the technical, but struggle when it comes to packaging information for other people to digest.  Sadly, just because you find restraining loads very interesting, doesn't mean others will automatically share your enthusiasm.

What holds the safety professional back from creating safety communication content is not a lack of motivation, but rather a lack of knowledge on how to do it.  No-one offers you the training and support you need to learn how to improve (well, except me!).

And yet, the irony is that the key role of a safety professional is to get buy in to the company's safety goals.  The workforce expects safety leaders to shine a light on relevant safety information and help them see what the dangers are and what they need to do to keep safe.  Safety professionals need to make safety meaningful to others, so that they know how it relates to their lives.

But that's not so easy to do, when you haven't been taught skills in creating compelling safety information.

If you want to start overhauling your safety communication, here are my five tips that I see safety professionals repeatedly making:

  1. Boring Titles - In advertising, titles are so important to draw people into an ad, that often advertising agencies will come up with 50 titles and then select the best one.  Sometimes, they will even test titles in focus groups to see which one is the most compelling.  Never underestimate the pulling power of your title.  It has to invoke curiousity.
  2. Redundant Content - The brain processes meaning before detail.  Any information that's not necessary gets ignored.  Learn to whittle down your information to the core content.  Shine a light on what's important.  Only one message per article, resist the temptation to throw in other subjects.
  3. Use visuals incorrectly - Most safety professionals know that they need to incorporate a photo or diagram.  But do you know the best ones to use?  Make sure it clearly shows what it needs to.  Include faces where you can because humans love looking at other humans (just like cats who like watching other cats on YouTube, except my cat, he prefers watching dogs).  
  4. Writing looks unappealing - Yes, that's right your writing must look inviting.  Just like a meal.  Use lots of white space, dot points and short sentences, short words, highlight important information in bold and use images.  And please, don't write like an academic.  The safety industry has a penchant for boring academic style reports and articles.  But by golly, they're boring.  An article with a lot of writing (and big words) is a turn off.
  5. Writing style is boring - Learn to use a variety of writing techniques such as how to incorporate stories, metaphors and slogans. Make it conversational and friendly.  Avoid old-fashioned corporate speak.

The number skill of any business leader is to be able to communicate your vision with such congruency that it influences the way the workforce thinks and acts.

As a safety leader you need to affect the feelings, thoughts and actions of your fellow workers with your vision of safety excellence.

Learning how to improve you safety communication skills is to key in being able to influence others.  Learn how in book Transform Your Safety Communication or my free webinar that's on next week.

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Topics: safety communication, safety leadership, safety communication skills