The importance of communication in health and safety

Health and safety impactscountless areas of every workplace. But to make sure it has an impact, communication is essential in every case – the Health and Safety Executive lists it as one of the main things any and every employer wishing to improve and safeguard health and safety should focus on. With this in mind, why is communication so important and how can effective communication be maintained across working environments?

The role of communication in health and safety

Without communication, all aspects of health and safety falter. That’s because it ensures that the correct approaches to health and safety embed themselves in the various parts of the business they are required.

This includes cultivating a culture throughout the business that ensures all employees or contractors know their responsibilities and obligations regarding health and safety, and that the right behaviours aren’t allowed to fall by the wayside, harming the overall culture in kind.

This approach intersects with the need for training. Without properly communicating the correct approaches to health and safety and making sure staff know exactly how they must safely perform their roles, accidents will happen.This includes all staff being provided and shown how to use the correct safety equipment, such as ear defenders on loud work sites.

However, training needs to be backed up with the right signposting. There are plenty of dangers acrossall workplaces, and while you can train staff to act correctly, without adequate signposting they may still get hurt or put others at risk. That means you should work hard to identify all the hazards in the working environment, mitigate them, and if this isn’t possible, clearly mark them.

Lastly, communication is key when creating policies and procedures surrounding health and safety. From the initial research and consultation that goes into their development, the creation of policies, through to their implementation, communication strengthens procedures and ensures they reflect the real-world situations they impact.

Howeffective communication can be maintained

With communication so integral to health and safety, how can it be maintained throughout your organisation?

First, accountability. At all levels, staff must be culpable for any health and safety failings that occur due to their actions. This means managers and leaders are compelled to create robust policies and procedures, and ensure the right training is provided, and staff act in the correct way to ensure safety during day-to-day operations.

Objectives and goals are also very important. Without quantifying the organisation’s approach and success in maintaining health and safety, and having goals to aim for, then action becomes much more difficult. These must be communicated widely.

Lastly, channels of communication must be set up between staff and leaders. This goes both ways – leaders must understand risks and how staff are experiencing hazards in order tomake robust plans and policies, and staff need to be aware of any legal or procedural changes that might impact their work or health.

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