Support Your Safety Culture with Posters

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Whether you work at a place that values safety or are trying to turn your current workplace into one that does, you might have noticed that a lot goes into creating and sustaining a safety culture. It starts with an initiative, a call to action, a declaration. Then, buy-in from employees at all levels of the organization is needed. It’s especially important to have executives and front-line leaders promote and support the messaging around the initiative. I could fill up the next several pages with other important content on how to create or sustain a successful safety culture, but I want to focus this post on one small, often overlooked piece of supporting a safety culture: messaging through posters.

Messaging Safety

Before you design and create a poster, you must come up with the right messaging. “We are #1 in Safety” and “We care about Safety” are all well and good, but lines such as these are platitudes. They are well-intentioned but are vague and ineffective. How will you become #1 in safety? How do you prove that you care about safety? That’s where proper messaging comes in. Whether you get the message out through rituals such as a safety huddle every Tuesday, a monthly safety contest with prizes or even safety awards, you need specific and actionable messaging that your employees can understand and follow.

At Avatar, we create Monthly Safety Initiatives (MSI) for many of our clients. The MSI covers a different safety topic every month. Safe Backing, Proper Lifting Techniques and Maintaining a Proper Following Distance are just a few topics that are very important to the clients we partner with. Covering a different topic each month keeps things fresh and continuously gets the entire organization thinking about that topic. The MSI includes an interactive video-based lesson, poster, facilitator guide, exercises and more to promote the safety topic. We have seen great success with this approach through reduced accidents and injuries, specifically a reduction in incidents that are directly related to the safety topic of the month.

Getting Your Message Out

Once you decide on the messaging you’d like to communicate to your company, you have to decide what means to use to convey the message. You can use the rituals I mentioned above. You can use an email, in-person meetings, video boards, flyers, phone calls, interactive lessons and what I want to focus on in this article: posters. Print collateral may be dying in the digital age, but it hasn’t lost its power. Posters are still a great way to convey important information. Posters are effective in standardizing your messaging and are easily created, shipped and posted. You can get the message out to all of your locations cost-effectively when you utilize posters.

Utilizing Your Posters

I’m not a graphic designer or an artist, but I do know some of the components necessary for an effective poster. It needs to grab the attention of your employees. It needs to be put up somewhere where people will notice it. It needs to be focused on 1 or 2 important topics, otherwise it becomes too busy and cumbersome to read. It needs to be visual. That is, a whole bunch of words won’t be very effective. Instead of just using words, let an image, picture or info graphic tell the story. This may seem obvious, but make sure the poster lines up with your messaging and doesn’t contradict any company policy or rule.

Next Steps

Once you begin understanding the formula needed for an effective poster, make more posters. Just like the MSI, I strongly recommend that you change things up at least on a monthly basis. Posters that stay up for too long become wallpaper. Just think of the OSHA posters you probably have hanging up in your break room. When is the last time you noticed them or can remember anything that’s written on them? Changing up your posters on a monthly basis will keep the message of the month top of mind until a new message come through the next month.

It’s all fairly simple once you put it in motion. Posters are a very small piece of a much larger effort to promote a safety culture, but they’re an important piece that can effectively support that effort.