Safety posters cover the walls in many workplaces and can make useful additions to a safety program. They help make the workplace more visual, which makes both work tasks and safety easier to understand. While safety posters can be very useful, if they are thrown up on a wall without much planning, they can end up being a waste of time and space. To be effective, safety posters must be targeted and impactful. So how can safety managers make sure their safety posters do something rather than nothing?
First, you need to consider your audience. What are the demographics of your workforce? Would a humorous poster be appropriate for your workplace or would a serious one be more effective? Different people may have different priorities, and not all safety messages work for everyone.
Second, think about the purpose of your posters. Are the messages general or specific? Are you targeting real problems that exist in the workplace or trying to set a tone for the safety program with a slogan? These messages can all have a time and a place, so you need to know what you’re trying to achieve. If you don’t know what you want to gain from a safety poster—besides something general like “a safer workplace”—your posters are unlikely to impact your audience much.
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The best way to use safety posters is as a supplement to your overall safety program. They should reinforce safety topics that employees have been informed about to have the greatest impact. To achieve this, think about some of these poster characteristics.
Safety Poster Design
Plenty of safety posters exist for you to choose from. You can also make your own or hire someone to make posters for you.
In any case, the design of your safety posters should not be overlooked. Just as you want other safety signs in your facility to be clear and simple, you will also want your posters to be clear and to-the-point. This can usually be achieved by limiting the amount of text and having relevant visuals like diagrams, pictograms or photos.
Posters should be eye-catching, but not overwhelming. When employees are busy and trying to get work done, the odds they’ll stop and read huge chunks of text are small.
Safety Poster Placement
Once you have posters that look the way you want them to and convey your message, the next step is finding the most effective locations for your posters. Putting all your safety posters in one place isn’t a good idea because a cluttered wall of signs is overwhelming and will most likely get overlooked.
The location of a poster should be determined based on its message. For example, a poster about putting on gloves before handling hazardous chemicals belongs at the location where the hazard exists or where employees put on gloves. Putting the poster anywhere else means its message could be forgotten before the employees need to don PPE.
For posters about more general safety themes, high-traffic areas are often the best locations. Select locations like lunchrooms or restrooms where most employees spend time or doors and hallways that everyone walks past. Just make sure these areas don’t become cluttered with too many posters and signs.
Create a Poster Cycle
Think about posters like you would a safety meeting. Would you have one really long meeting once per year to cover every possible safety issue in the facility, or would it would be more effective to cover safety issues at shorter, more frequent meetings? After hours of safety information, the odds employees will retain all that information decrease. The same is true of your safety posters: if you put dozens of them up at once and leave them there, employees will be inundated with information and then slowly start to forget or ignore that information.
A better solution is to rotate your safety posters, perhaps to coincide with safety topics that you discuss at monthly or quarterly meetings. Posters could also relate to seasonal hazards in the workplace or reflect larger safety initiatives like National Fire Prevention Week or Eye Injury Prevention Month. (You can even bring posters to safety meetings to use as a starting point for a discussion and then post them in the workplace afterwards.)
New posters will catch employees’ attention, so workers will be more likely to stop and read the posters. If the subject matter of the new posters relates to safety issues you’ve recently discussed, the posters can serve as reminders and reinforce safety rules and suggestions.
By aligning safety posters with the larger topics and emphases in your safety program, employees will also see that a significant amount of thought and planning has gone into safety, making them more likely to take safety seriously. Just throwing up a new poster on the wall every so often would still catch attention, but it might not be as impactful.
Safety Posters Are Visual Tools
Safety posters serve as tools to help keep workers focused on safety, but they can’t carry your safety program. You can’t assume that putting up posters will make the workplace safer. You must do your part to focus on safety on a daily basis. If you demonstrate that your company takes safety seriously, bringing up new safety topics in meetings and putting up posters related to those topics will most likely be more effective.
Posters can also serve additional functions in the workplace such assisting with efficiency. The poster to the right, for example, reminds employees about the parts of 5S methodology, a system that helps keep the workplace organized, clean and easy-to-understand. If your facility uses practices like these or is thinking about implementing them, posters can be useful tools to help employees learn and remember their roles. Ultimately, keeping a facility clean and organized can also help prevent needless accidents, too.
Posters should make sense for your workplace hazards, your safety program and the tone and culture of safety at your company. To see some poster options for your workplace, visit Creative Safety Supply.
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- OSHA Accident Reports: How to Handle the Aftermath of a Work-Related Injury or Illness– creativesafetysupply.com
- Lean Posters– blog.creativesafetysupply.com
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- 10 Places to Use Safety Signs & Labels in the Industrial Workplace– babelplex.com
- The Visual Workplace – 5 Less Obvious Places to Use Signs and Labels– safetyblognews.com
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