By Bill Tricarico
Senior Risk Management Consultant
Emergency Services Insurance Program
The answer to the title question is…it depends. That’s probably not the answer you were looking for so let’s take a look into the use of safety posters.
Several studies have indicated that safety posters can reduce accidents and injuries as well as improve morale and communications within an organization. Safety posters are a sim-ple means to convey a single thought which is meant to make people safer and this type of information can be very powerful. Posters avoid “information overload” which can be ineffective and often times ignored. In addition, safety posters displayed around the building demonstrates management’s concern and commitment to safety probably the most important aspect of any safety program.
Now that we’ve reviewed the positive aspects of safety posters, the answer to the title’s question may seem obvious but….it still depends.
I’ve walked through fire stations where the posters have yellowed with time and bulletins from 2003 are pinned over portions of them. These posters, while in plain sight, are no longer consciously visible to personnel. They may not even have any meaning to new members. I’ve also seen them posted behind doors which are usually open or other rarely visited places. So the first step is to be seen. Posters should be placed in heavily traveled areas. They should be obvious and not hidden among other postings. Placing them in a frame is a great way to draw attention as well.
Next, is changing them often. Old posters simply become part of the wall and lose atten-tion quickly. You must have a safety poster program which provides for changing posters on a regular basis. Most people in the safety industry feel that safety posters should be changed at least quarterly and monthly is even better.
Finally, make them relevant. If your safe driving poster is aimed at fire apparatus opera-tors don’t use a poster with a delivery van on it. People need to relate to the message and will disregard what they feel is not important to them. A great way to make them relevant is to put up posters which reinforce your training message. For instance if you’ve just completed a class on patient handling, posters on lifting safety would work well.
And please remember, safety posters are not a safety program. They are designed to en-hance your program which should include training, analysis, hazard prevention and con-trol, management commitment, and member involvement.
Safety posters are easily available. They can be purchased from a variety of safety prod-uct companies but you may also be able to get them at no charge from your insurance company, product manufacturers, and governmental agencies such as OSHA. You may also want to develop your own safety posters. Photos of your own buildings or equipment will have an even greater impact.
So the real answer to the question, safety posters alone may not reduce accidents but a well- planned safety poster program will impact your overall safety program in a positive manner which is a win for everyone.