Posted September 6, 2012 by Scott Reed 

Simplifying Safety Communication

With so many safety plans, mandates, and initiatives in place, it is difficult to keep our union staff with other functional priorities reasonably informed and focused on personal and professional safety roles. With communication demands and limited time to communicate, maybe the best approach is to think of automatic, easy, and existing communication mediums to send constant, but impactful, safety messages.

With our ever growing safety and security master plan in full motion year round, communication and training are by far the biggest challenges and most time consuming elements. Further, taking time to strategically think about how we can most effectively relay messaging for safety with a good balance of frequency, interaction, reference, and impact is part of the challenge.

In the past year, we have employed some regularity in communicating about safety that both makes it easier and simpler for staff to absorb incrementally, while in turn making it easier for myself, as our safety coordinator, to remember to communicate. Through a mapped out safety training timeline in our master plan, we have employed some simple techniques that seem to work with simple safety communication.

One simple technique is adding a “safety minute” as a standing topic on our all staff meeting agenda. Using a bank of safety topics such as locations for first aid kits, reviewing a section of one of our plans, or possibly highlighting who holds safety certifications on our staff, I present a one- to two-minute reminder or scenario that casually informs staff monthly of one aspect of our safety program. Another simple technique is adding a preplanned calendar reminder during logical periods of the year to send out updated plans, procedures, etc. This messaging is a constant reminder to those involved in plans to take note of their roles.

Other ideas for easy, constant safety messaging are updating our service area quick reference safety materials. In each of our facilities, we have very visible emergency resource centers installed in service areas that have updated reference to EAP plans, emergency contacts, and maybe most importantly, an emergency quick reference guide that outlines simple bulleted steps for 18 different potential emergencies. A refresher on contents and location is always helpful for these easy resources.

For simple external facility communication, one of our new initiatives under development is to add a Knox box to the exterior of our facilities. These are predominantly used for fire and emergency officials to gain access to resources and floor plans, but we are planning to use them for internal communication as well. Because we will have access to these boxes when evacuated from our facilities, they can be a standard resource to access plans or information that we may need readily available in one simple location.

In summary, if you are designated to lead safety communication for your teams, in addition to formal training, consider keeping annual safety messaging and communication simple but intentional.

How do you convey your safety messages?

Scott Reed

Scott Reed is the Associate Director of Student Centers and Activities at Virginia Tech.

Scott oversees and directs services, operations, and facility management needs for four student center buildings. Through this role, he has overseen renovations, served on the campus sustainability committee, led safety planning for the union, and is currently co-chairing a facility management software transition team. A long time member and volunteer for ACUI, Scott received his bachelor’s in sports management from Western Carolina University and his master’s in kinesiology with a concentration in sports and recreation management from James Madison University.


Thank you for the tips Scott. Simple messaging, consistent reminders, and easily accessible tools. All keys to making a plan work when you need it!
Michelle Smith
Comment posted 09/06/2012 5:54 PM
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