Why is Visual Communication Effective for Safety?

6 min read

When trying to improve safety in the workplace there are many things that can be done. One of the most effective strategies, however, is using visual communication. Taking some time to learn about why visual communication techniques are so effective for safety will help to illustrate the importance they offer.

What is Visual Communication?

The first thing you need to do when looking at why visual communication is effective for safety is have a good understanding of what visual communication really is. The simplest explanation is that visual communication is any method of passing information to someone using a visual aid. There are a lot of ways that people are familiar with, for example:

  • Sign Language – Sign language is a great way to communicate for people who are deaf or have difficulty hearing. This is a full language that can be understood visually.
  • Traffic Lights – Traffic lights on the roads are a great example of visual communication. They can be seen from quite a distance, which makes them a great option for conveying important information to drivers.
  • Written Content – Technically speaking, you reading this is a form of visual communication. You are using your eyes to gain information about a specific topic. Anything written down can be considered visual communication.
  • Product Warning Labels – Many different products have warning labels on them to let people know not to eat something, to keep it away from children, or to take some other action. This is an important form of visual safety.

As you can see, visual communication is something that is used throughout the day in people’s every day lives. In the workplace, visual communication is extremely common. It is used not only to improve safety, but to help share information that is needed. Looking at the various forms of visual communication that are used in the workplace can help to illustrate why it is so effective.

Examples of Visual Communication in the Workplace

When looking around a manufacturing facility or warehouse you will see a lot of different examples of visual communication. In this environment, using visual methods to share information is often very important. This is because it is not uncommon for these areas to be very loud, which can make speaking difficult. In addition, these facilities are often quite large, which can make normal communication hard as well.

Learning about some of the different ways that workplaces use visual communication will help to illustrate just how helpful it can be in keeping people safe.

Safety Signs

You will often see dozens of different safety signs in a single workplace. Some of the most familiar examples are the signs that remind people to wear hard hats, warn people of moving machinery, alert people to a fire hazard, and other similar things. Many companies will use a variety of different pre-made safety signs that alert people to hazards that are present across different facilities around the world. Other times you will see custom-made safety signs that warn those in the area of a unique hazard that is present.

Labels

Labels are another commonly used type of visual communication in the workplace. They can be used in many different ways and in many cases, it is actually required by OSHA or other safety organizations. In many ways, labels work in the same way as a safety sign. In fact, they can be used interchangeably in some situations.

Some examples of where labels are used to convey safety information in the workplace include the following:

  • Pipe Labeling – Labeling pipes in a facility is critical for safety. Pipes can carry dangerous things like hot water and chemicals. Bing able to easily see what is being transported through a pipe will keep everyone safer.
  • Labeling of Chemicals – Any container that is used to keep a dangerous chemical should be properly labeled. These labels will tell people what is in the container and what hazards are associated with it.
  • Flammable Warnings – If there is something that is flammable, it is a good idea to put a warning label on it to remind people not to bring any flame or other hot things close to the object.
  • Safety Equipment Labels – The labels that go onto safety equipment such as a fire extinguisher will help people remember how to use them. You can also put labels up on the wall above this type of equipment to help people find it when it is needed.

Of course, there are hundreds of different types of safety labels that are used in the workplace. Buying or printing the ones that you need is easy and affordable.

Lighting Warning Systems – Using lights to signal that danger is present is a very effective option. One common example of this is when a company will have a flashing light turn on when a machine is in motion to alert people of the hazard so they can stay out of the area. Using lights as a type of visual communication to improve safety is extremely effective.

One of the biggest reasons that companies can benefit from using light-based warning systems is that the lights are easy to see all the time. Most of the time a colored light is used, which makes it highly visible even during the day. If the power goes out or it is nighttime, however, these lights are still very visible. Of course, if the power goes out, the safety lights need to have a battery backup to ensure they continue to run.

Safety Tags

Safety tags work in much the same way as safety labels. One of the most common places where a safety tag is used is at the end of pipes where there is a nozzle or faucet. A safety tag can remind people of what is going to come out of the pipe when they open the nozzle, which is critical for safety. These tags can also be used as part of a lock out tag out system and many other strategies that are designed to help improve the safety of specific tasks in the workplace.

Floor Marking Tape

Floor marking tape is one of the most commonly used types of visual communication in the workplace. It helps to keep facilities organized, instructs people on where they can and cannot be, helps forklift operators, and much more. Floor markings are often required by OSHA to convey information in various situations. This is because it is such an effective way to ensure everyone in an area is able to get the information they need to work safely.

Visual Communication Improves Safety and Efficiency

While there is really no doubt that visual communication strategies are great for improving safety, they are also used to improve the overall efficiency of a company. For example, when a company starts using floor marking tape to ensure their forklifts are driving only in the areas where they belong, people can work in the other areas without having to worry about these vehicles. This lets them do their jobs more efficiently.

In addition, when a visual communication strategy helps to prevent some type of accident or injury, the facility is able to continue to work and be productive when they would have otherwise had to shut down. Whenever there is a serious safety event in a facility it is necessary for everything to step so that anyone who is injured can be helped and so the company can investigate what happened. This is obviously going to cause a lot of delays in production.

This is on top of all the direct efficiency benefits that can be enjoyed by following visual communication practices. For example, when a particular manufacturing station is running out of a part, they can use a visual cue to let the supply team know to bring them more. This is much quicker and more effective than having to get it themselves or go verbally make the request.

Once the employees working for a company are trained and ready to use visual communication strategies for safety, they will naturally be able to use them for other benefits as well. Having a company that has experience with this type of communication will allow everything to run much more smoothly and efficiently.

Offering Visual Communication Training

Whenever implementing any type of change to your facility, you will want to make sure that everyone is trained on how it is going to work. While most people are generally used to certain types of visual communication, it is still helpful to provide training on the specific ways that it will be used in your facility.

Teaching everyone about the meaning of various safety signs, labels, and other markings is a great place to start. This becomes essential when considering forms of visual communication that use things like symbols, abbreviations, color codes, and more. In the end, proper training will be one of the most effective things you can do to get the most out of these strategies. While it will certainly take effort, it is more than worth it because workplace safety is so important.