How Simplifying Manuals Can Strengthen Your Safety Program

According to a recent report published by the Center for Construction Research and Training (a.k.a CPWR), your safety manuals and training materials may be too technical for your crews to understand. In order for safety policies and procedures to be effective, they must be easy to comprehend (and implement), and based on the latest study, many training materials are lacking key components to ensure that the information is easily accessible.

The study was conducted by researchers collecting 103 safety training handouts, brochures, and Safety Data Sheets that were designed for distribution to construction workers.  They scored the materials for readability and suitability using four standard health communication instruments, and the key findings were indicative of a need for simplification:

1 – Reading Level – Approximately one-third of all training materials exceeded an eighth-grade reading level.  With an eighth-grade reading level being the recommended ceiling by many communication experts, it is worth reviewing your own training materials for reading level, vocabulary and format to ensure that everyone is included in the learning process.

2- Call to Action – Researchers found that most written materials were convoluted and did not focus on a single main message or “call to action”.  Key points and messages should be summarized at the start of the document and easily identifiable throughout the body text; this can be done in multiple ways, including: Placement of clear and informative subheadings; incorporation of recognizable and bold text for key points; use of bullet-points and easy-to-follow steps.

3 – Supplement Safety Data Sheets – Safety Data Sheets are required but are also designed to cast a wide net and reach multiple audiences with a variety of messages. CPWR suggests that employers supplement SDSs as they can be difficult to understand and often provide information that does not directly relate to the employee’s work.  The supplements should be targeted to the hazards and safety precautions specific to the employee and his/her position, as well as be easier to read.

By investing a small amount of time to improve your safety manuals and materials for accessibility and readability, you will receive a great return in the safety and security of your team.

To learn more about how your business can ensure that all safety materials, policies and trainings are meeting the needs of your crews,  contact Brauner Safety Services.

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