Safety professionals, and all PCBUs, should be aware that the job of communicating critical safety information is not done until there is certainty that the information has been understood.

Although Insight has touched on this topic before (see Considerations for effective safety communication Insight issue 38), it’s a topic which requires ongoing attention.

Tailoring the method of communication to suit the nature of the hazards and risks involved, the type of information to be communicated, the audience, and the number of people involved is critical. These issues are explored in our earlier article.

The step frequently missed is then to check that the information has been understood by the workers.

Methods for determining the effectiveness of the communication process include:

  • Confirming the workers’ understanding of the requirements at the end of a ‘face-to-face’ communication process by asking verification questions (with more detail than just a yes or no answer), or asking them to paraphrase the requirements.
  • Exploring the workers’ understanding by asking them to identify the relevant Procedure, JSA or SWMS to be applied, or to correctly identify the equipment needed for the safe completion of a task.
  • Monitoring (directly or informally) the workers’ application of the information which they’ve just received.
  • If the information is safety critical, it may be appropriate to include a brief assessment element to test the workers (in written form) on the information just imparted.

It may be beneficial to include a sign-off component to the record of communication, with an annotation detailing that by signing, the worker acknowledges an understanding of the requirements.

Please contact QRMC for more information.