Effective safety communication positively impacts worker behaviors and attitudes toward safety. Empirical evidence from a 2022 study demonstrates this leads to enhanced working conditions, reduced workplace incidents, and bridged gaps between safety culture and safety performance. 

Safety managers want these outcomes but often ask questions like: What exactly is effective safety communication? What if I’m not a skilled speaker? Where do I start? How much time will this take? 

First, effective safety communication doesn’t have to be complicated. The key principle is to focus on safety and promote a safety culture. Examples of effective safety communications include: 

  • Open giving and receiving of feedback 
  • Aligned and consistent messaging by leaders and managers 
  • Informed supervisors who properly communicate with their teams 
  • Breakdown of barriers for upward communication of workers to managers  

Safety managers don’t need to be skilled public speakers to talk about safety but preparation is critical. Safety meetings, sometimes referred to as toolbox talks, should have an agenda and purpose. The agenda guides your meeting and helps you achieve the desired objectives. Inviting and ensuring the right attendees participate in the talk is also important. If the necessary team members aren’t there, you may not accomplish the expected outcomes from the meeting. 

Time and meetings must be effectively managed to positively impact safety culture. Attendees should be expected to arrive on time and the meeting should start promptly. Ensure the right amount of time is booked to cover the meeting’s objectives but note that toolbox talks can be as short as 10 minutes. Keep the discussion on target and take notes. Encourage workers to participate and ask questions. When the meeting ends, attendees should understand any decisions made and responsibilities assigned to them.  

Daily or shift huddles start an employee’s day with a safety focus. These are short, standup meetings usually held at the start of work that last less than 10 minutes. Huddles provide an opportunity to discuss safety topics, review the previous day’s activities, and raise any concerns that require escalation.  

Safety managers should tailor huddles to the team’s specific needs and job sites. Use the following example safety standup agenda as inspiration: 

  • Raise safety issues from the day prior 
  • Discuss safety issues for the current day 
  • Provide updates on pending issues  
  • Open floor for workers to raise safety concerns 
  • Close with important announcements 

Whatever methods managers use to communicate safety information and promote a safety culture, remember to establish on-going and two-way communication that covers potential job site hazards and helps build regular discussions around safety.   

TPC offers more than 1,000 online courses in our online course catalog. Visit us here to sign up for more information. We’ll work together to find the best solutions for your business. TPC stands ready to serve all your safety training needs.   


About the author:

Taylor Sikes is a safety professional with over 15 years of experience. He has served as an OSHA-authorized trainer for construction and general industry, holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of Georgia, and has authored numerous courses in workplace safety.


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