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Visual literacy in the workplace

How does incorporating visual literacy with connected worker solutions lead to safer workplaces?

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Photo: Anvl

Responding is Robin Fleming, co-founder and CEO, Anvl, Fishers, IN; and Douglas Pontsler, chair and managing director, Center of Visual Expertise, Toledo, OH.

Answer: Every year, more than 5,000 people are killed on the job and more than 2.8 million suffer job-related injuries or illnesses. It’s paramount that employees be fully engaged and aware of their surroundings to identify and mitigate hazards. Finding innovative ways to educate teams on hazard identification and support them in making the right decisions in the moment can result in safer work environments.

Hazards in the workplace are often overlooked, which is compounded by the fact that more than half of the workforce is disengaged with its work. Safety suffers when people are disengaged, with reports indicating that disengagement can double the number of incidents and injuries. Ninety percent of workers with access to good technology reported being more productive on the job, but many on the front line do not feel equipped or supported with the proper tools. Further, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, companies pay more than $1 billion a week for workplace injuries.

Safety leaders and supervisors have the opportunity to engage employees with the right training and smart technology that uses leading indicator data, such as moving vehicles and trip hazards, resulting in early hazard identification and mitigation. Investing in connected worker solutions that incorporate visual literacy training and are implemented directly on a mobile phone or tablet enhances workers’ ability to see hazards and communicate them appropriately. This combination of tools supports the determination of what risk the hazards present and the appropriate action to mitigate potential impact. Collecting this data in real time through connected worker solutions can help leaders understand the risk profiles of their work areas and proactively resolve safety concerns before incidents occur.

One of the key ways to address this issue is through innovative training augmented with modern connected worker technology that provides in-the-moment support, reinforces training and enables data capture that can be acted on. Innovative visual literacy training helps workers better understand what is behind the data they are capturing, and therefore is central to safety performance.

The four key benefits of incorporating connected digital solutions with visual literacy training are:

  • Daily work practices that include visual literacy and enhanced hazard recognition can dramatically improve risk mitigation and reduce serious injuries and fatalities.
  • Leaders have the opportunity for real-time visibility to capture insights into trends and top areas of risk for agile continuous improvements.
  • Visual literacy training helps workers truly see their environment so they can identify concerns and communicate risks before an incident occurs.
  • Developing the ability to think critically. By following a disciplined process of improving what we see, assessing what it means and determining what action to take simplifies complicated work environments and focuses our attention on what really matters. This can help everyone from feeling overwhelmed by the amount of data being captured through audits, observations, checklists, work permits and more.

Visual literacy training and connected worker software that provides leading indicators in real time can truly improve your safety program, improve engagement, and identify and mitigate risks at the earliest point.

Editor's note: This article represents the independent views of the authors and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

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