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Use Technology To Communicate Safety Guidelines

Stokes McIntyre , Shahin Aftabizadeh | October 13, 2021

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When it comes to communicating within organizations, many teams start their day with a huddle to verbally discuss the day's challenges and what information will be most critical. This is a great way for teams to connect before starting their work; however, it's what happens after the huddle that resembles the dark ages of communication.

After the huddle, things change. And in many cases, the new information that needs to be conveyed is done through word of mouth, and the team is basically playing a game of telephone tag. This type of verbal communication posthuddle is insufficient due to the many safety hazards, nuances, and risks involved with the day-to-day job, especially in the cases of large restaurant chains, healthcare organizations, and construction companies that have uniquely fluid workforces. And throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we've seen just how quickly things related to safety can change.

Good risk managers and safety teams are constantly thinking through every possible scenario to provide their team with critical information that empowers employees to do their best work and to do it safely. However, traditional methods of communication—such as in-person onboardings with long training videos or daily verbal explanations—can overwhelm team members or potentially get lost on a new worker who is already taking in a lot of important information.

Key Communication Safety Factors

Communication of safety guidelines makes the greatest impact when these six considerations are incorporated on the jobsite.

  • Use short, succinct videos to describe the details and processes for very specific topics and tasks employees will encounter.
  • Be able to quickly revisit the information shared whenever needed.
  • Speak in the employees' language, both in their preferred first language and in colloquial terms.
  • Consider the employees' mental wellness and headspace while they're reviewing the information you are communicating.
  • Technology allows for in-the-moment and two-way communication to follow up on any questions or provide feedback, express concerns, or broach new ideas to the management team.
  • Realize that information is readily available on a mobile device and is accessible in a way that is most familiar to employees.

Unfortunately, traditional models of communicating safety guidelines don't typically allow for any or all of these things. That's why it's so critical to incorporate technology into your onboarding processes and ongoing training.

Technology Ensures Consistency

Consistency of messaging is critical when working with a complex, fluid workforce, both in terms of the language shared in the update and in the timing—everyone receives the same update at the same time. Even the slightest miscommunication or opportunity for confusion can throw off a whole team's productivity for the day. These situations can chip at employees' trust in the management or larger organization and impact turnover—resulting in more new employees to onboard.

Everyone on the job and in the organization should be on the same page. Luckily, every employee likely has a smartphone in their pocket. One of the easiest ways to incorporate the above considerations is through the use of smartphone applications. There are now applications in the market that offer robust platforms to house all safety training, allow for real-time written updates to your full team, and make two-way, timely communication a reality.

The benefit of having all of these functionalities within a single platform is that employees will have only one place to look for answers to their questions, freeing them from stopping their work completely to interrupt another person who may miscommunicate a secondhand update.

Technology Works In-the-Moment

Consistency in communication will only continue to increase in importance on jobsites due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Fluid workforces today are not only required to learn and manage the safety measures specific to their industry but now must also keep in mind the ever—and often quickly—changing safety measures regarding COVID-19. Due to the frequency and speed of changes happening daily, it's important for the frontline workforce to have the ability to easily revisit the information whenever it is needed.

The federal government's recent vaccine mandate is impacting organizations with more than 100 people and is a good example of this need. Employees are very likely to have questions regarding their company's policies and what their options are as an individual. And ultimately, employees want to know how their employer is supporting them throughout the uncertainty.

The federal vaccine mandate is a recent and important example in which real-time communication to the entire team is crucial. For example, as soon as that mandate was announced in the news, management teams could send an update to their employees that they're aware of the news and they will follow up with more details and the next steps specific to their organization.

This immediate acknowledgment and transparency help to build trust and candor among a widespread organization, as the frontline employees know management is on top of the news and employees have an easy way to access related information and instructions on their own time to get assistance if needed.

Technology Allows Access

When using technology to communicate safety guidelines, ensure that the messaging is concise, is spoken in their preferred language, and offers a place for employees to find further instruction or ask questions. When employees on the front line can receive needed information in their preferred language quickly and concisely, they're more likely to remember it and make better, safer decisions when facing challenges on the jobsite.

Further, making sure that the information is available when they are in the right headspace is important in the accessibility of knowledge. According to the available heuristic data, employees are more likely to act on what it is they can remember, not actually what is correct. When facing a tough challenge or situation, it's always better for the employee to have the right information sitting in their pockets, waiting for them to review it when they are in a safe area, rather than trying to think back and rack their brains for the correct next steps.

Frontline employees receive a lot of communications, messages, and information every day. Be proactive by using technology on the jobsite, so they know they always have something to fall back on if they need it and keep the refreshers coming.

Within mobile technology platforms, contractors are able to communicate critical information to their entire company, a single jobsite, or specific teams instantaneously, eliminating any uncertainty on the jobsite. It also allows the opportunity to quickly check in with the frontline team.

Especially during this uncertain time, it's a good idea to regularly send notes to the team on a daily or weekly basis, so they know the home office is closely monitoring additional changes and is making decisions with the team's safety in mind. Now is the best time to increase communication across jobsites to reduce any risky or potentially fatal situations and to accurately, consistently, and frequently communicate safety guidelines.

About MindForge

MindForge is a holistic communication hub designed to unite construction organizations. The platform simplifies workforce communication and maximizes quality with tools that keep jobsites safe, efficient, and connected, ultimately driving increased performance excellence.

MindForge's research on systematic issues related to serious injuries and fatalities on construction jobs confirms that critical information and education often do not reach field workers with construction teams that use inefficient or antiquated methods for communicating. This lack of communication combined with a deficiency in practical continuing education on safety and trade skills largely contributes to serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs).

MindForge developed a technology platform to establish a jobsite communication network that delivers timely information and education to mobile devices in the field. This equips and empowers workers to avoid hazards and do great work.

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