A visual workplace uses tools like safety signs, labels, floor markings and other visual cues to communicate information quickly. This information may alert people to hazards, serve as a reminder or provide instructions.
You may think your workplace doesn’t need added visuals. Maybe you have a good safety record and production is up, and making your workplace more visual seems like extra work you don’t have time for. Investing in a visual workplace is worth your time and resources for many reasons, though, and in the long run it will make your life easier and make your facility run more efficiently.
In this post we will take a look at six reasons investing in a visual workplace is a good decision, not just a costly project.
1. Keep Employees Safer
One of the most important benefits of a visual workplace is it will keep employees safer on the job. This is true for a number of reasons. Consider the following:
- Safety Signs can keep people out of unsafe areas. Doors, aisles and passageways that are labeled as hazardous will prevent employees from entering places they don’t belong. Signs in bright colors that say “Warning,” “Danger” or “Caution” draw attention and remind employees they need to find a different route.
- Floor marking tape can prevent traffic collisions by clearly marking where pedestrians should walk and where vehicles like forklifts should travel. Signs can reinforce traffic patterns at intersections.
- Signs and labels can remind employees what personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to wear at the location where they will actually use it. Seeing that visual cue can prevent an inexperienced or tired employee from performing a task without appropriate gloves, eyewear, footwear, etc.
- Labels can alert employees who work with hazardous chemicals about any precautions they need to take. This is especially helpful in workplaces where employees encounter a wide variety of chemicals on a daily basis. Additionally, many of these labels are required by OSHA and GHS standards, so making sure you provide proper visuals will help keep your facility compliant, too.
These are just a few examples of how safety signs, labels and floor marking can go a long way to help keep everyone safe in the workplace. If you assess your facility, you will find many more places where a visual tool could improve safety.
2. Make Training Easier
Training takes a lot of time and costs employers a significant amount of money annually. Employees often are not thrilled about having to go through a lot of training either. Having a visual workplace can help reduce training times, reinforce topics covered in training and eliminate the need for as much re-training in the future.
It’s one thing for an employee to learn how to perform a task in a classroom setting, but once a person is out in the workplace, the steps of a task may seem less clear. Having signs or labels near a machine explaining the steps to use it, for example, can help an employee pick up on the requirements of a job quickly. Hazard labels and PPE labels can also warn new employees they need to take extra caution so they don’t get into trouble while they learn their jobs.
Having visual reminders present in the workplace will also reinforce best practices for all employees, even if the employees don’t read the signs as carefully after a while. They have likely absorbed the meaning of the signs, and if employees do need to reference them, they can easily do so.
3. Reduce Accident and Injury Costs
Well-trained employees who can refer to visual instructions are more likely to do their jobs safely than employees who aren’t certain about the procedures they should be following. By having a visual workplace, you can keep the number of accidents and injuries at your facility to a minimum, meaning the company will avoid the costs associated with those incidents.
Accidents are expensive and involve both direct costs (like workers’ compensation payments and medical bills) and indirect costs (like lost production time, damaged products and time spent training new employees, to name a few). Indirect costs can sometimes be as high as 20 times the amount of direct costs, so accidents in the workplace shouldn’t be taken lightly. Companies will need to increase their sales to make up for those costs.
If it’s possible to reduce the chances of an accident occurring with visual tools, it is definitely worth doing so.
4. Make Housekeeping Easier
In a busy workplace, it’s easy for things to get disorganized. Tools and PPE get left out or put back in the wrong places, and this means people spend time the next day looking for these things. Using labels to indicate where these tools belong will ensure employees know where to put everything at the end of the day. You can also use floor signs or floor marking shapes to indicate where things like trash cans, pallets or bins should be placed.
If you use lean manufacturing or 5S principles at your business, visuals related to housekeeping can also serve as a simple way to cut down on the amount of time wasted, making your workplace more efficient.
5. Improve Morale
While you may not see all of the benefits of implementing a visual workplace right away, you will see them over time. Believe it or not, a visual workplace can even help improve employee morale.
In general, people feel happier when they work in a clean, organized environment. Because your visual tools will help keep the workplace cleaner, the moods of your employees may improve because they feel proud of the place they work.
Furthermore, because helpful information and instructions are provided through visuals, your employees will feel empowered since they won’t need to ask as many questions. Sometimes supervisors become irritated when they have to spend a lot of time answering questions, but employees don’t like to have to ask simple questions all the time either. When signs and labels can answer questions like “What PPE do I need?” and “How do I turn off the power to this machine?” and “Where should I put these cleaning supplies when I’m done with them?” everyone will save time and employees will feel more confident.
6. Increase Productivity
Ultimately, a clean, organized workplace where employees can find answers to their questions will be a safer work environment, but also a more efficient one. This means productivity will increase because workers will know how to do their jobs safely and effectively and they’ll be happier about doing them, too.
Investing in a visual workplace will certainly take time and effort, but companies that decide to do so see many improvements in their workplaces.
If you’d like to learn more about creating your own visual workplace, take a look at our SlideShares about the Visual Workplace and Safety Signs. Once you feel like you’re ready to start posting signs and labels, consider whether an industrial label printer would help your facility: