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Visual Communication Compliance and an IIPP Reduce the Need for First Aid

By: James Strohecker, Contributor

Reminding workers to immediately report any incidents or new hazards helps improve workplace safety. Image courtesy of Graphic Products.

First aid emergencies can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

  • In 2020, there were nearly three million nonfatal workplace injuries.
  • More than 4,600 workers were killed on the job.
  • Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in the U.S. respond to 37 million 911 calls every year.
  • The average EMS urban response time is seven to eight minutes.
  • Chances of survival are doubled if first aid/CPR help is provided within four minutes.

The combination of an injury and illness prevention program (IIPP), first aid knowledge, visual communication, and awareness of the location of first aid supplies, can both reduce incident severity and provide effective care for the ill or injured until EMS personnel arrive on the scene. This combination can significantly reduce workplace incidents and lower the effect of incidents on an operation’s workforce morale, absentee rate and productivity.

Create an Effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) With Visual Communication

An IIPP is a vital component to any workplace efficiency and productivity program. Workplace IIPPs create a transformed work culture that can lead to higher productivity, reduced turnover and improved employee job satisfaction.[1]

Your Injury and Illness Prevention Program must be a written plan that includes procedures and is put into practice. These elements are required:

  • A person (or persons) with authority and responsibility for implementing the program is identified.
  • A system for ensuring employees comply with safe and health work practices.
  • A system for communicating with employees in a form readily understandable by all affected.
  • Procedures for identifying and evaluating work place hazards.
  • Procedures to investigate occupational injury or illness.
  • Procedures for correcting unsafe or unhealthy conditions, work practices and procedures.
  • Provide employee training and instruction.
  • Procedures to allow employee access to the program.
  • Record keeping and documentation.

When your operation combines visual communication with your IIPP, you can seamlessly increase compliance, knowledge and awareness around your facility. Properly utilized visually communicated messages deliver required informative directions in any environment and under all types of conditions. Visual communication can also have a strong impact on reducing workplace incidents.

Effective visual communication simply and affordably raises awareness of workplace hazards to reduce risks and promote safety:

  • Warns employees about hazards and informs them about required personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Reminds workers to immediately report any new hazards.
  • Guides employees to first aid and eyewash stations when immediate response is needed.
  • Reduces workplace incidents, because workers recognize when to take certain precautions, stay out of restricted areas, wear required PPE and minimize risks.
  • Increases knowledge and efficiency for workers, which helps drive productivity.
  • Promotes a culture of safety; one that demonstrates to employees (and OSHA) your commitment to a safe work environment.
  • Delivers clear medical and first aid awareness and well-marked.

Visual communication notifications are important components of an IIPP safe work environment. Customized or site-specific messages can alert workers to hazards, promote safe behavior and reduce workplace incidents.

  • OSHA requires safety signs at locations where a present (or potentially present) hazard threatens the safety of a worker.
  • OSHA 1910.145(f)(4) maintains that the sign’s signal word must be readable from at least five feet away

When Should You Use Visual Communication with Your IIPP

Visual communication can alert workers to the location of emergency medical supplies, so that effective care can be provided until EMS personnel arrive. Image courtesy of Graphic Products.

Use visual communication and floor marking whenever hazards are present — or whenever they may be present — in your facility.

OSHA and ANSI have established three primary severity classifications for visual communication and Safety Signs. These types of warnings correspond to the severity of hazards present, and can be used to guide your facility’s decision-making process:

  • Danger:Danger signs alert workers to the most serious hazards, where special precautions are required. The “DANGER” signal word is printed in white letters on a red background and is preceded by the safety alert symbol.
  • Warning: These describe a hazard that could result in death or serious injury if not avoided. The “WARNING” signal word is printed in black on an orange background and is preceded by the safety alert symbol.
  • Caution: Caution alerts indicate that potential hazards may exist and could result in minor or moderate injuries. On these signs, the “CAUTION” signal word is printed in black on a yellow background header and is preceded by the safety alert symbol.
  • Notice: A visual communication notice provides information relevant to a building, area, machine or equipment. These signs address practices and precautions, such as procedures, instructions, maintenance information, rules and directions.
  • General safety: These are important for workplace safety because they provide notices of general facility rules and location of health, first aid and medical equipment, sanitation and housekeeping supplies and procedures.
  • Admittance:Admittance visual communication explain the risks of entering a restricted area, don’t have a defined hazard category and may use elements of other categories.
  • Fire safety:Important fire safety alerts notify workers about location of emergency firefighting equipment.

Ask these questions to determine where to place visual communication in your facility:

  • Are hazards present?
  • Will the worker see the sign(s)?
  • Does the location give employees ample opportunity to avoid the hazard?
  • Is there clear direction to safety and fire equipment?
  • Is redirection necessary?
  • Is maintenance performed in this area?
  • Is it a high-traffic area?

An injury and illness prevention program (IIPP) and visual communication help safety managers seamlessly increase compliance and awareness and reduce incidents and their severity on a worksite or in a facility.

Together, an IIPP and visual communication can alert workers to properly identified workplace hazards, promote safe behavior, and – in the event of an incident — provide faster, more cohesive access to emergency medical supplies to provide effective care until EMS personnel arrive. WMHS

About the Author

James Strohecker is the Director of Marketing Innovation at Graphic Products + DuraLabel ( Graphic Products is a leader in delivering innovative design software, industrial sign and label printers, all-purpose floor marking, multi-language signs and labels, and colored pipe markers for any facility’s compliance and safety requirements. Graphic Products’ Best Practice Guide to OSHA Safety Sign breaks down all the requirements, from text size to color and graphics.


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