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April 28, 2022

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culture and behaviours

Closing the communication gap in the workplace

Tiffany Argent, Head of Customer QSHE Services for SafetyCulture in the EMEA region, talks to SHP about the importance of communication in health & safety, especially when considering colleagues on the frontline.

Tiffany Argent SafetyCultureWithin the health and safety profession communication is key. There is even an entire clause dedicated to communication within ISO 45001:2018. IOSH’s Catch the Wave campaign focuses on the second wave of sustainability, social sustainability which starts with our people, the most important asset to a business. Socially sustainable businesses should provide a good place to work for their employees, as well as building a mutual relationship of trust and communication is a fundamental aspect of this.

As an experienced health and safety professional, there is nothing worse than hearing the words ‘I didn’t know’ from a frontline worker after you have sent emails, adorned notice boards (and the back of toilet doors!) with posters and provided printed toolbox talks for managers to disseminate.

Over the last two years because of COVID we have embraced new technologies to stay in touch with colleagues, deliver training, plan projects and continue our day-to-day work. But this issue surrounding communication has always been here, especially for our deskless workforce. These are our colleagues on the frontline such as forklift operatives in warehouses, machine operators in manufacturing sites, facilities management teams keeping our workplaces clean. The feedback I received in the past included that they have felt isolated, forgotten, not listened to, or communicated with.

Create engaging messages

A study conducted by Facebook (Meta) investigated communication and feedback from the frontline workforce and they found some interesting statistics. For example, 50% of leaders miss communications from head office. So how are leaders expected to disseminate information from the health and safety teams to the frontline if they missed it because it’s been engulfed in their operational communications?

SafetyCulture also received customer feedback regarding communication and leaders wanted:

  • A methodology that made it easy to create engaging messages.
  • Messages that are easy to consume.
  • Provide a trusted way to reach the frontline workforce.
  • Confidence that messages have landed.

Being able to put information directly in the hands of our frontline workforce using their mobile devices is the way forward to close that communication gap. A recently introduced feature in iAuditor by SafetyCulture called Heads Up can help close that gap.

Heads Up can provide so many different opportunities to provide the correct information directly to those it’s intended for. It doesn’t just have to be a safety alert document or incident awareness photo. For example, you could make a video recognising your employee of the month, share best practices within the workplace and change the communication direction upwards.

Demonstrates commitment to health & safety

In my opinion, the opportunity for the CEO to talk directly to every employee in the workplace about health and safety via a short video message that lands on their phone screen is worth so much. Colleagues can leave comments and acknowledge the communication providing a record as evidence of the receipt of communication which is so powerful and useful. It demonstrates a commitment to health & safety, reduces the ‘them and us’ mentally and supports the health and safety professionals in the business.

People who know me are still surprised I moved from heavy industry to a tech company, but SafetyCulture is a platform I truly believe can globally change the profession by reducing paperwork, increasing transparency and improving communication across all sectors of industry.

You can read more about my customer experience with SafetyCulture’s Heads Up feature in this case study.

Tiffany is a chartered member of IOSH and an IOSH mentor with 17 years of health and safety management experience in freight forwarding, warehouse operations, science and manufacturing. She is currently the Head of Customer QSHE Services for SafetyCulture in the EMEA region where she supports a wide range of customers to improve engagement and provide industry use cases sharing her knowledge and expertise. 

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