Company leaders consistently tell me that their Number One priority is safety. Unfortunately, safety talks to Latinos very frequently fall short of the level of importance and priority we affirm. There are three key concepts that point the way to giving the best safety presentations:
CLEARSafety talks need to be clear. How many times do we have safety talks when English is simply translated to Spanish by someone who is neither a skilled speaker nor a respected leader, much less a skilled interpreter? When we do this, the language is not clear. To compound the matter, when we simply translate from English to Spanish, the message is normally not culturally relevant.
There are three elements to clarity in communications. Ask yourself if your safety talks meet these criteria:
1. The actual language is unmistakable.
2. The message is culturally relevant.
3. The content itself is well defined and easily understood.
An average message given by an outstanding messenger becomes outstanding. An outstanding message given by an average or poor messenger becomes average or poor. In other words, the message begins with the messenger. Safety talks should be given by a respected and skilled messenger. If your most skilled messenger does not speak Spanish, then by all means invest in a quality Spanish training course for this person.
If a company continues to use inferior means to give a supposedly top-priority message, one thing is clear - the message is really not top priority!
To ensure that your safety presentations are effective, a professionally developed, culturally relevant message must be given by a respected and skilled messenger.
The only way to truly know if a message is clear is to get validation. Most organizations have people sign forms indicating that they attended. But it’s sometimes hard to know if the attendee understood the presentation. You should always validate understanding. A clear five-minute safety talk followed by a five-minute validation quiz is better than a 10-minute talk that you do not know if people truly understood.
Having a process of validation is a very good strategy in case something ever goes wrong. These can be simple multiple-choice tests or one- to two-word answer type quizzes. The point is to get validation that the message was understood.
CONSISTENTIf something is a top priority in an organization, would it get addressed only once a month? This is doubtful. However, many organizations limit their safety talks to once a month; Some address safety even less. The lack of consistency means lack of importance.
Safety talks do not always need to be formal or verbal, but they do need to be consistent. The best practice is a minimum of once a week. Short but relevant safety talks are also given daily in best-practice situations. Before a crew is released to go to a jobsite, a short reminder should be given regarding any new developments or awareness issues on the jobsite. Some companies effectively use safety signs on their jobsites and in their vehicles.
COMPELLINGIf something is really important, it should feel like it, especially to Latinos. We are a more feeling-oriented society and most of us subconsciously measure the importance of a matter based on the conviction and emphasis given to the message by the messenger.
Safety talks should be compelling, full of real-life, heart-wrenching, family-saving examples. The tone of the talk should be heartfelt and serious. This speech may well save someone’s life, and if it is given in a monotone, dull, dry, or otherwise lifeless manner, well, someone may just end up losing a life.
Safety talks should bring up compelling issues like family, economic well-being, future ability to progress in the company and the importance of providing for loved ones. This approach will resonate a lot more with Latinos than talking about OSHA regulations. Workers should be taught important laws and regulations, and that can be best done in the greater context of family, progress, financial stability, future potential, etc.
If you need help with a safety trainer learning Spanish (or one learning English), make the effort to get that help. If you would like to receive my free book, “How to Really Learn Spanish” send me an e-mail message and we’ll get it to you.
Be clear, be consistent, and by all means, be compelling!