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The Importance of Clear Instructions to Keep Safe

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 9 Jul 2018 | comments*Discuss
The Importance Of Clear Instructions To Keep Safe

Health and safety issues have never been more important within the workplace. Not only must your company comply with all the relevant pieces of legislation that affect the business they operate within alongside any new legislation that is introduced, it’s also crucial that your workforce is also fully aware of what is expected of them.

At the very least, whenever a new employee joins your company, they should be required to attend a health and safety briefing applicable to the job they will be doing and the location they will be doing it in and this should always be backed up by a company health and safety handbook or document which they can keep for reference.

Why is This So Important?

Many workers who, perhaps, do not work in jobs where there is any real perception of risk or danger about their work might suppose that health and safety briefings are somewhat of a waste of time but the importance of them should not be overlooked. In any kind of work, whatsoever, there are always health and safety risks and dangers, even if they’re not instantly recognisable and all members of staff should be aware of those that apply to them.

Should a company fail to deliver a health and safety briefing in a clear and concise manner that is fully understood by each employee (no matter how bored they might find it), the company could be prosecuted for not complying with health and safety legislation or could even be taken to court by a private individual, such as a customer, for breaching safety regulations. Furthermore, the company could even be putting their employees and their own lives at risk as well as the business itself.

How Can Safety Instructions be Given More Clearly?

It’s not reasonable or practical to give out copies of all of the legislation applicable to your company or to a particular role within it to all members of staff and expect them to go through it with a fine toothcomb. Yes, it’s expected that you’ll be able to hand out a document regarding health and safety issues to all members of your workforce but if you want to get your message across with complete clarity in any given situation, it’s crucial that you engage with the workers who need to understand the importance of keeping safe within a specific situation they might come up against.

One of the best ways of doing this is to give a verbal presentation which should be illustrated with the use of visual aids such as a PowerPoint presentation, slide show, flip charts etc. which contain the most important points from your briefing - preferably in bullet point form where possible. You should keep clarity at the very front of your thoughts when devising your briefing. Keep your language simple, concise and leave no room for any ambiguities or misunderstandings. Photographs or video, in particular, can be very successful in getting your message across where it’s appropriate.

For example, showing a picture of the result of a person with a fractured leg as a result of a trip or fall when they’ve slipped on an unsafe surface will be far more effective than telling your audience that is what could happen to them too if they don’t clean up any spillages they might make. They know that already and probably don’t think it would happen to them but when they visually see the results, it plants the possibility in their minds much more clearly and makes them more aware.

Employee Participation in a Presentation

Safety presentations or briefings aren’t the most capturing of subjects to keep your audience entertained but in addition to using visual aids, engaging your audience to get involved in the presentation can also help cement the importance of the safety briefing. You may have different sections you need to cover so you should invite questions after each section and be prepared to answer them.

You should also use this opportunity to ask your audience if there is anything they don’t understand, are not sure of or if they are in need of further clarification. In some instances, you might be able to get your audience to participate in practical demonstrations which highlight ways in which you should and shouldn’t do things, for example, how to lift a heavy box off the floor and place it on a table correctly if the job entails that. There is, after all, a right way and a wrong way to do even that, seemingly, ‘simple’ a task.

The crucial element to remember is that to keep safe at work, the importance of clear instructions cannot be underestimated enough and the more interesting ways you can think of to put your message across, the more likely your employees will get the message and understand the importance of it.

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