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Communications 101: Seven Steps to Successfully Spreading the Word

communicating about safety programs

When introducing a new safety program, you’ll need buy-in and input from everyone who will be impacted. Try the following steps to jumpstart your campaign and ensure that safety will stick:

1. Send company-wide emails.
These emails could take the form of a newsletter, or they could simply be a monthly email update from safety managers (or both). The emails should communicate your objectives for the safety program, why the company is instituting it, how it will affect drivers’ day-to-day, and how you’ll measure results along the way. This isn’t a one-and-done message—keep email communications regular and on-going. 

2. Meet regularly with coaches and managers.
Host weekly calls or in-person meetings with your safety ambassadors, who are likely the coaches, managers, and perhaps even safety-leading drivers. Discuss the overall program execution, review safety policies, and address day-to-day issues drivers are struggling with.

3. Mail letters to employees and their families about your safety-first initiatives.
Help alleviate worry over loved ones who operate in the field every day by sending a letter to your employees and their families. The letter can explain your company’s commitment to making sure everyone gets home safely every night.

4. Set up monthly coaching sessions with drivers.
Regular, proactive coaching is one of the most effective ways to get your safety programs and policies to stick. Coaching sessions should be collaborative and approached as a partnership between the driver and coach, versus disciplinary. Always send a follow-up email to reinforce messages from your meeting.

5. Send feedback surveys.
Send anonymous surveys to drivers to get their feedback on the safety program and its implementation, gauge their job satisfaction, and get input on more operational items such as maintenance and equipment. Share the results with department heads to ensure the feedback is heard and acted upon.  

6. Schedule recurring meetings to discuss results and progress with the company.
Keeping the safety program top of mind for the entire team (not just your safety leaders) is important to its success. Hold regular meetings with the entire company to talk about how the program is progressing…and be sure to share the big wins.

7. Celebrate success
Safety programs are as much about rewarding good work as they are about correcting unsafe habits. Celebrate drivers (in a very public way) who perform acts of heroism on the road, are acknowledged by industry associations, reach important company milestones, and generally exhibit safe driving behaviors.


Components of Effective Safety Communications

Whatever tactics you choose to communicate your safety programs, they should include these components, which are time-tested and proven to be effective:

Clear Goals - Establish a clear link between what employees do on a daily basis and how their individual actions help the company reach broader safety goals.

Clear Intent - Ensure employees understand the intent of your safety program, such as making sure every employee returns home safely every day.

Top to Bottom Collaboration - Loop in frontline employees as well as supervisors to align on objectives.

Feedback - Learn from those who are out in the field every day by creating driver councils, surveys, or some other way of receiving, acknowledging, and acting on feedback.


Safety Communications in Action

It’s impossible to overcommunicate the importance of safety, of which American Central Transport is living proof. The company used seven communication channels to broadcast its safety messages, helping drive a 61% reduction in event frequency. The channels included:

  • Email newsletter or blog
  • Social media
  • Conference calls
  • 1-on-1 meetings
  • Payroll stuffers
  • Text messages

Using these communication channels and others, companies have taken creative approaches to communicating and reinforcing safety messages. Some examples are:

  • Emblazon safety reminders everywhere throughout your business: on drivers’ doors, in break rooms, on company shirts, on paperwork, etc. 
  • Make a point to encourage drivers to “be safe” as they head out on their routes.
  • Launch quarterly campaigns with themes based on trending topics (CSA scores, recent snowstorm, etc.) to make safety topics relevant and engaging.
  • Hold social media contests that reward drivers with a chance to win a prize for exhibiting safety behaviors and good work.
  • Personalize the in-cab camera, giving it a name, positioning it as a driver’s sidekick, and hanging fun, positive quotes from the device.

For more on the importance of communications, check out this article: Onboarding Best Practice Spotlight: Communications.