Many organisations work hard to develop risk assessments, method statements and a safety management system but fail to adequately communicate the necessary information to their staff in a way that is interesting or that they understand.

They find it very difficult if not impossible to get staff involved in health and safety and as such this lack of good communication, in many organisations, is perhaps one of their greatest risks. You may have the processes in place but do those undertaking the work know what the risks are or what the rules in place are?

The additional problem, as people often suggest with some justification, is that communication for health and safety purposes is particularly difficult because such information needs to be exceptionally clear and comprehensive and most people are immediately turned off by health and safety. For too long the safety message has been delivered badly concentrating on subjects that often have little relevance or meaning to those involved.

Good health and safety performance hinges critically on effective health and safety communication yet it is given very little real thought.

There are a number of communication methods to use including use of DVD, presentations, posters, toolbox talks, team meetings and other visual aids. There is much that can go wrong when trying to communicate safety issues such as missing or inaccurate information, poor quality information, misunderstandings or failure to get the exact message across.

So what are the key elements to consider when trying to communicate health and safety?

  • Know your audience
  • Keep it relevant, specific and as simple as possible. Often personalising safety helps get the message across
  • Present with enthusiasm, show people that safety is important
  • Line management, from Directors to operational supervisors must be seen to ‘walk the talk’
  • Get staff involved in identifying and addressing health and safety risks and issues

Much has been written about good communication and it is a subject that deserves more than a brief article. Cardinus recognise the importance of good communication when it comes to health and safety and are developing behavioural programmes and courses which specifically look at how the safety message can be communicated effectively.

Should you wish to discuss ways to develop the health and safety communication within your organisation contact Cardinus on 0207 469 0200 or email

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