When running a business it is the responsibility of you and your safety team, which varies with the size of your operation, to make sure that employees in your charge are adequately protected at all times. A safe workforce is a happy workforce, and a happy workforce is a productive one. Safety procedures serve another purpose as well, they insulate your business from lawsuits and liability. This is, of course, secondary to the lives and well-being of your workers, but it is one of the reasons that OSHA and other rules exist around workplace safety – one at-fault incident can bankrupt a small to mid sized business.
Unfortunately, just having a safety plan or set of procedures doesn’t mean you’ve got yourself covered. In some cases, procedures can actually hinder safety and efficiency among workers if they are hard to interpret or don’t adequately serve their function. If workers view procedures as unnecessary or overly burdensome, they also may be inclined to simply ignore them. In our blog post, we’re going to go over how you can effectively author your safety procedures and construct them to best work for you and your business.
Does Your Writing Have a Voice?
When writing, tone and voice are extremely important to adapt for the audience you’re speaking to. For example, think about a copywriter that needs to put together two advertisements for a cell phone company. One advertisement is selling a new smartphone for business professionals and another is for an entry level phone for teens. Do you think that the writer is going to write both of the ads in the same way? No, the tones of the ads are going to be completely different because 40-something business men and women are going to respond to text differently and understand different references than 16 year olds. You need to adopt the same well-researched, intentional mindset used by marketers and copywriters when writing your safety procedures. Write for your workers. In general, you should make things as easy to understand as possible, there’s no need to over-complicate your words and waste your workers’ time.
Additionally, a good way to keep your words readable is to stick to short paragraphs and sentences, separating out large blocks of text to avoid making things too dense and losing the eye of the reader; no one wants to read a 2,000 word essay in order to figure out what protective gear they need to wear. If it’s a longer form procedure with many different steps, keep the document to a maximum of 1-3 pages; shorter is generally better as long as all bases are covered.
Is There a Defined Purpose?
Before you actually put a pen to paper, so-to-speak, you need to identify a clear purpose that your safety procedure is to serve. With a proper and understandable justification, safety procedures are much more likely to be followed and accepted. Here are some examples of what I mean:
Making it Visual
Another part of effective communication in safety procedure writing is visuals. What’s even simpler than keeping text and copy easy to read? Just using pictures! A combination is usually a good way to go as well, explaining processes by using flow charts or other types of diagrams.
Better yet, do things both ways. While some people learn better through reading, it’s more common for people to be visual learners that more easily interpret whole processes when they are drawn out in easy to follow boxes and pictures. Ask your workers which formats work best for them – if nothing else, having input in the process is empowering and they are less likely to protest a system that they themselves helped come up with.
Keep it Cohesive
While there are generally many different safety procedures that make up a program at any business, you want to give them all a sense of uniformity. Documents should be easily identifiable as part of your safety plan and filed in the same place. Creating a logo for your safety plan, or contracting someone to brand or even manage the safety procedure process, is a great way to accomplish this uniformity.
A strong safety procedure is a clear one. Anything you do should be highly intentional and have an easily discernible purpose to not only you and your management staff but, especially, to your workers. Strike a balance in which safety is a priority, but is not stifling to employees; involve them in the decision making and safety-creating process to increase compliance. Finally, always be ready to accept feedback from those working for you and adjust your policies and procedures in accordance with this feedback. Follow these guidelines for a fresh, revitalized, and effective safety procedure plan for your workforce!
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