Although procedures are not required any longer, they are still frequently used as a way to describe how a company operates. This makes a lot of sense when it comes to quality but can be significantly harder when it comes to safety management. In the end, working safely is more about culture and mindset than it is about writing down how to do things safely.
As we touched upon a couple of times before, safety has a lot to do with culture and how the company perceives safety and working safely. Writing these things down doesn’t really help. People need to be trained and made aware of the values of the organization when it comes to safety. Simply creating a safety manual isn’t the way to make it work. The safety culture needs to be in the veins of the organization, and everybody needs to breathe it.
Procedures and Manuals
Writing down the safety procedures and manuals is key as a means to hold knowledge. These documents describe how the organization perceives safety and how important it is everybody operates with a safety-first mentality. However, they are rather worthless when it comes to sharing information. Most of these documents are written by people behind desks, while the most risks are with the people in the operations. These documents are written with the best intentions and do have a critical role, but they should never be used as the only way to communicate safely with the people in the field. You simply cannot read a 6-page document every time you start working.
Better Ways to Communicate
Although the procedures are important documents, the organization needs other means to communicate safety protocols and values. People in the field and shop aren’t going to read these pages of text before they go to work.
Pictograms are a great way to communicate. They are easy to understand regardless of the language you speak. Sometimes they do need a little explanation along with them but that is limited. Pictograms can be stuck around the shop to remind people, for example, what kind of PPE they need to have for a certain job.
When there is more to communicate, such as values or more elaborate procedures, videos can come in handy. The videos allow for very clear and easy-to-understand simplification of what is written down in a document. A video can be used to communicate the safety values of the organization or simply show how someone needs to lift something heavy.
Although this is a form of textual communication, a memo can do the job as well. These are, most of the time, a short description of what is going on. They are like an extract of the document to make it simple and quick to understand. Sometimes memo’s even come with easy-to-understand pictures.