Using Safety Posters to Improve Workplace Safety
Maintaining workplace safety is a constant challenge. New employees, new safety rules and new equipment are just a few of the many issues that must be addressed in any safety program. But the key to a successful safety culture is worker motivation. Without worker engagement, even the best-laid plans will fail.
So how can you motivate and engage workers to take safety seriously? There is a simple and cost-effective tool that can be used to help improve workplace safety in nearly any situation. Safety posters. Safety posters are powerful visual communication tools that can help you create or maintain a successful safety culture - and a successful business. Here's how to use them most effectively:
1. Reinforce Your Safety Messages with Safety Posters
To effectively communicate your safety program, you need to do more than hold regular meetings and post mandatory safety signs. You need to educate and engage employees to keep safety top-of-mind. Safety posters can help by removing barriers to learning and leveling the playing field for diverse learners.
Engage Employees. People are naturally drawn to images. They attract and hold attention, stimulate curiosity and illustrate messages. Safety posters with interesting images are especially effective at grabbing employee attention. When was the last time an OSHA safety sign did all that?
Educate. Now that your safety posters have employees' attention, you have a good opportunity to reinforce training messages and bring attention to new ones:
- Address issues specific to specific types of work
- Promote special topics, such as falls or eye injuries
- Advertise targeted safety themes for weeks or months
- Complement your safety culture
Increase Consistency. Safety posters are one of the easiest and most effective ways to increase communications consistency, while reinforcing your key safety messages. They help improve retention of those messages - and also raise awareness of your commitment to safety.
2. Choose the Right Safety Posters
Just like eye-catching billboards, safety posters are intended to engage people. But with the wrong placement, message or colors, they could still be ineffective. Consider the following to find the right posters for your audience.
Purpose - What is the purpose of your safety poster? Are you targeting real problems or setting a tone for your safety culture? Posters should reinforce safety topics and motivate positive action.
A Clear Message – Sometimes posters are a bit too artistic, resulting in unclear messages. Make sure the safety posters you select have images and text that are easy to read and understand. Avoid inside jokes, unless they complement the culture in your workplace.
Audience - Consider the knowledge level, age and other characteristics of the people you want to reach. Don't talk down to experienced employees, but don't talk over-the-head of new hires. Humorous posters can be effective in many situations because they're memorable.
Readability – If people can’t read your poster from a distance, you’re missing an opportunity. Poster designs should include a variety of text sizes. The headline should pull in the reader. Avoid too much fine print, tight character spacing and low-contrast colors so your posters can be read from a distance. Think of reading a highway sign vs. a roadmap. Sometimes less is more.
Originality - The safety message on your poster has one chance to grab the attention of your audience. Eye-catching posters with original images, colors and themes will make employees stop and take notice.
3. Make Sure People Read Your Posters
You take the time to craft safety protocols, find posters that meet your needs and hang them throughout your workplace. But how can you be sure people will pay attention to them? Here are three tried-and-true tactics to ensure people read your posters.
Shuffle Locations. You can ensure more people see your safety posters by moving them around frequently and testing where they’re most effective. You might assume the break room is the best spot to catch people’s attention - but if people are engaging with colleagues your message may be missed. On the other hand, a hallway might be a surprisingly good spot to catch some eyeballs as people pass by with nothing else to look at. Once you find the spots that seem to gain the most attention, rotate your posters between the hot spots. It’s a simple and inexpensive way to surprise people with fresh messages.
Update Frequently. Three out of four safety professionals believe changing safety posters often increases their effectiveness, so keep them fresh. Although your basic topics (PPE, spills, handwashing, etc.) may stay the same, new posters with different colors, images and slogans will attract attention.
Make People Laugh. Several studies show that humor boosts retention, so a humorous poster will not only catch attention, but it may also help people remember your message.
4. Use Safety Posters as Motivational Tools
Disengaged workers had 49 percent more accidents, 60 percent more errors and defects and 37 percent higher absenteeism than engaged workers, according to studies conducted by the Gallup Organization and the Queens School of Business. Inspirational and motivational posters help you create an environment where people feel valued, empowered and respected. Productivity and safety improve when workers feel valued by their employers. Motivational messages that align with your company values will encourage your employees. Here's how to do it:
Be Positive. Most safety signs focus on the negative, giving orders of what NOT to do. Posting safety posters with attractive images, positive messages, lively colors and humor creates a lively atmosphere the encourages workers.
Promote Teamwork. Employees who feel there’s a low level of respect between colleagues are 26% more likely to quit their jobs. Happy employees stick around, so messages that promote teamwork are important.
Encourage Ownership. Businesses find the most success when they treat employees like adults. That includes encouraging them to take ownership of their work and their actions. Empower your employees with inspirational posters.
Acknowledge Hard Work. Studies have shown that employees whose managers consistently acknowledge their excellent work are 5-times more likely to stay at the company. So let your team know you don’t expect perfection, you expect progress.
Motivate Success. Encourage employees to think big, take calculated risks and follow their passions to keep them engaged. Committed and engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave.
5. Inspire a Safety Commitment
Words are incredibly powerful. They can inspire, motivate and persuade - or discourage, dismiss and create negative attitudes. So it’s important to choose your words wisely, because they indicate the key element of success: attitude.
Employee engagement empowers an organization to create a successful safety culture. When employees are committed to the organization and its goals, they’re engaged to make safer choices because they actually care about what they’re doing. The messages you send, whether spoken or posted around your building on safety posters, can motivate the change you need to create a safer, more successful workplace.
Safety posters alone won't solve workplace safety problems – but they will energize your safety program by helping you engage, educate, inspire and motivate your employees.