Communication is key to inspiring a health and safety culture. "But don't just share information with people," says Janet Bewers, a WSPS business developer. "Engage and inspire them."
During a highly rated session at WSPS' 2015 Partners in Prevention Health & Safety Conference & Trade Show, Bewers delivered a constant stream of inventive and thought-provoking suggestions. "You're the change agent. "Bedazzle. Go a little bit crazy." What follows is a sampling of Bewers' suggestions.
Prepare your message
- Know your audience. What combination of these motivators will work best: moral, legal, financial, other, psychosocial, competitive?
- Speak their language. Avoid getting fancy-pantsy with language. Your message will get through if your niece or nephew in Grade 6 says, "Yeah, I get it.".
- Keep the message simple. Fewer words and more photos, illustrations and pictograms. Example: show me what PPE I'm supposed to wear, don't just tell me. Easy, done. Is it expensive? No.
- Be positive. Avoid focusing on negative consequences.
- Repeat everything seven times. Communicate a message seven times in multiple ways so that people fully absorb it.
- Measure effectiveness. Are people really getting it?
- Do things in groups of three, like Martha Stewart. She's the queen of simple, clear procedures.
- Use colour to engage visual learners.
- Use faces. Whether it's a first aid person, joint health and safety committee member or employee of the month, people love seeing faces.
- Use family portraits on anything you think will compel behaviour change, because it's tough to ignore them.
Communicate through multiple media
- Make your safety board a must-see. I've got a short attention span. If it's not shiny, pretty and well lit, I'm bored to tears. I've seen safety boards that look like an art gallery: posters, visuals, comics... Yes, it may take up a whole wall, but so what?
- Create beautiful posters, banners and slogans. Have a different theme or topic every month that makes people want to look at your safety wall of awesome.
- Convert your internal hub or support site into a health and safety network. Update it regularly with compelling content.
- Use social media. If you're not reaching Gen Xers, Gen Yers, and Millennials through social media, you're not engaging them.
- Install an electronic health and safety message board in the entrance, elevator lobby, or lunchroom.*
- Brand health and safety with a visual identity.*
Make your points in unexpected places
- Format your health and safety policy in a 28 point font, laminate it, and place it in the lobby as a beacon of hope for all who enter. Why not? Who said you couldn't?
- Post safety messages in washroom stalls, and above urinals and soap dispensers. If they get graffitied, make them more interesting.
- Bring in someone from a different division or organization to repeat your messaging. Afterward, people will tell you, "That Jennifer, she's got some great ideas."
Create unique campaigns
- Launch a button program with simple infographics encouraging desired behaviours. People will collect them.
- Start a rubber bracelet program. It creates an inclusive environment that people want to be part of.
- Offer safety decals to everyone.
- Stamp pay slips with safety messages. Everyone looks at their slip.
- Add inspiring safety signatures to your emails.
- Hold an in-house health and safety conference, with presentations on health and safety priorities, initiatives, safety milestones, etc.*
- Use fun and games to test learners' understanding and retention. For example, create your own versions of:
- Chutes and Ladders
- Discovery Education Puzzle Maker
- Family Feud
- PPE fashion shows
- Deal or No Deal
- Wheel of Misfortune/Fortune
- "CSI" Incident Investigation role playing
- Mock trials - Come to WSPS' Partners in Prevention Health & Safety Conference & Trade show to see how works
- Spot the Hazard
- Racetrack - every department is a horse the most health and safety resolved at the end of the week moves their horse ahead. Greatest distance covered wins.
Reinforce safe behaviour
- Hand out badgessaying "You're an exemplary employee" or "Someone cares about you at home."
- Write a personal note. Handwritten letters stop people in their tracks.
How WSPS can help
Attend similar sessions on communicating effectively at WSPS' National Partners in Prevention and Regional Partners in Prevention conferences. Session information will be updated as it becomes available.
Download and display these resources from our website:
- 6 motor vehicle safety posters
- 6 occupational disease posters
- individual posters on GHS, heat stress, protecting aging workers, and supervisor competencies
- pictograms for the greenhouse, hospitality, restaurant, and retail sectors
Build WSPS videos into your safety presentations and talks.