3 Strategies for Safety Communications

A good internal safety communications campaign can help your organization build buy-in to the safety program faster and with much less effort.


Why is it that one company within a specific industry can struggle with safety while another excels? The same rules apply to both companies. The difference is in the approach in communications, coaching, training and encouraging the participation of employees in looking out for each other.

SCCS Banner Website

We don’t need more rules or more checkboxes. We need more people to buy-in to what we are trying to accomplish with our safety programs. That takes a very different set of skills and approach.

Safety communications don’t involve check-boxes, process, procedure, the law, or enforcement. They involve getting people to see the benefit of making good, informed decisions and in becoming more willing to look out for their fellow workers. It’s less about enforcement and more about engagement. A good internal safety awareness campaign can help your organization build buy-in to the safety program faster and with much less effort.

If you'd like to get started on improving your ability to communicate more effectively with your team, then take the Free Preview of the Safety Communications & Coaching for Supervisors course. 40-minutes of video instruction, summary sheet download PDFs and a companion MP3 audio version to take with you on the go. And it's free to get started.

Brand Choice Matters

What is it that makes a family choose one brand of laundry soap over another? One brand of truck over another? Mac or PC? Starbucks or Tim Hortons? OK, that last reference is decidedly Canadian. And for those Canadians who are brand-loyal to Tim’s, well, good luck getting them to even try another brand.

Everywhere an employee looks, there should be a reminder of how we do safety around here.

The same question could be asked of employees. What makes one employee buy-in to safety and another to simply tolerate safety rules? What is the brand of safety in your workplace?

Safety buy-in doesn't happen by accident.

New call-to-action Safety buy-in doesn't happen by accident. It needs to be the goal of your internal marketing strategy. Use internal safety marketing to overcome barriers, objections and resistance to the safety program through a series of purposeful communications.

Connect with each corner of the organization. Establish an overall corporate culture that includes safety throughout every department. Safety is for everyone so everyone should be involved. Safety has to appeal to every single person in the organization in a way that they can comprehend and ultimately buy-in to.

Nike’s Just Do It® marketing statement was the result of years of research and preparation. The white Apple logo with no words took years to perfect. Marketing is a purposeful exercise with most of its work behind the scenes before anyone ever sees the result of all of that work.

Safety First and Be Safe are not effective internal safety communications campaigns.

Safety First and Be Safe are not effective internal safety communications campaigns. They do not create an easy affinity with the end-user. There is no ownership of those message. They're boring, predictable and generic. Besides, people won’t choose Safety First when they feel that what is being measured is production. Meanwhile, Be Safe is not a complete set of instructions. Gruesome injury photos do not create a warm fondness for safety. They create fear and intimidation; neither of which creates trust and respect.

Top 3 Safety Marketing Strategies

order people work book in bulk If your workplace is interested in trying to create an internal marketing strategy to build affinity with safety, here are the 3 strategies you need to consider:

1. Create a bond of ownership.

People have to feel proud to own the brand they choose before they buy it. The messaging and the words have to connect at a personal level. Use as few words as possible to make an impact. It's easy to remember a few words. Once you connect with pride of ownership of the message, it’s tough to change their minds. Once your people buy-in, it can become unshakable.

2. Look beyond the narrow focus of safety.

In other words, don’t make the campaign just about safety. Create something that front-desk receptionists, IT guys, and salespeople can get behind. You are not just attempting to change safety culture. You’re changing the corporate culture with safety being one of the foundational values. How you do business, and especially safety, can be your competitive advantage. Can you connect your safety campaign with hiring, sales and new business?

3. Be everywhere.

Once you have decided on your message, it must be everywhere and integrated into every corner of the organization. From banners on shop floors to logos on the back of vehicles to crests on coveralls to stickers on hard hats, to paper coffee cups in lunchrooms. Everywhere an employee looks, there should be a reminder of how we do safety around here. The marketing message will begin to seep outside of the walls. It will find its way into the hands of jobseekers, customers, and contractors. They will measure themselves against your message to determine their fit.

The key is to connect employee pride to the marketing campaign. If you can make people proud to connect, they will engage. Safety ensues.

SCCS Banner WebsiteTake the FREE preview lesson of Kevin's course Safety Communications & Coaching for Supervisors. 40-minutes of video instruction, summary download PDFs and a companion audio MP3 version to take with you on the go. SCCS is an online course to help energize safety, build teamwork, and get employee buy-in.

Kevin Burns, consultant/author, works with smart, caring companies to energize safety culture, build teamwork, and get employee buy-in. KevBurns Learning is committed to to helping companies improve safety by improving people, through creative learning materials, virtual strategy sessions, safety meeting presentations, and team coaching programs.

In 2020, BookAuthority.org named PeopleWork #7 of The Top 44 Workplace Safety Books of All Time. Buy yourself a copy of PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety and give another as a gift to a colleague.

Subscribe to Kevin's YouTube channel.

Subscribe to Kevin’s Blog.

Topics: safety marketing