Safety Communications Plan

Safety Communications Plan

Short and sweet advice from George Robotham from


Boring lecture. Alone sleeping student in empty auditoriumThere is not much use having great technical OHS skills if you cannot get your safety messages across effectively. Putting “Simple Communications” into Google will bring up some good advice. Much safety communications is simply too much like hard work and people give up on it! People will often not put the required hard work into complex communications.

Introducing major OHS initiatives are often aided by the formation of a special project team. An important task for the project team is to develop a communications plan as part of the overall project management plan.

Communications plan

The following is a brief outline of a communications plan-

  1. Assess your current communications. Did it get the desired results? How effective has it been? What went well? What opportunities for improvement were presented?
  2. What are you setting out to achieve?
  3. Who is the target audience?
  4. What are the key messages for the target audience?
  5. What communication channels will you use?
  6. What types of communication will you use? Face to face is often the best.
  7. What does the audience need to hear? Frame messages relevant to the environment of the person receiving the communication.
  8. Who will do the communicating? Often the direct supervisor is the best person to use for communication to frontline workers. High powered presentations from senior management often have credibility problems.
  9. What is the budget?
  10. What are the timelines for deliverables?
  11. How are you going to evaluate the effectiveness of communications?


It has been my experience that getting some short, sharp advice from a communications professional will target your communications more effectively. I found the book Communicating Change by T.J. Larkin useful.

George can be contacted on, he welcomes debate on the above (it would be indeed a boring world if everybody agreed with George)

George Robotham

George Robotham

George was a Legend in the Safety World who passed away in Sept 2013 but left us with a great legacy
George Robotham
I have worked in OHS for most of my working life, many years in the mining industry including over 10 years in a corporate OHS role with BHP. Since leaving the mining industry I have worked in a variety of safety roles with a variety of employers, large & small, in a variety of industries. I was associated with my first workplace fatality at age 21, the girl involved was young, intelligent, vivacious and friendly. Such a waste! I was the first on the scene and tried to comfort her and tend to her injuries. She said to me “George, please do not let me die” We put her on the aerial ambulance to Rockhampton base hospital where she died the next day. I do not mind telling you that knocked me around for awhile. Since then I have helped my employers cope with the aftermath of 12 fatalities and 2 other life-altering events. The section "Why do Occupational Health & Safety" provides further detail but in summary, poor safety is simply very expensive and also has a massive humanitarian cost. My qualifications include a certificate I.V. in Workplace Training and Assessment, a Diploma in Frontline Management, a Diploma in Training & Assessment Systems, a Bachelor of Education (Adult & Workplace Education) , a Grad. Cert. in Management of Organisational Change and a Graduate Diploma in Occupational Hazard Management. I am currently studying towards a Masters in Business Leadership. Up until recently I had been a Chartered Fellow of the Safety Institute of Australia for 10 years and a member for about 30 years. My interest is in non-traditional methods of driving organisational change in OHS and I have what I believe is a healthy dis-respect for many common approaches to OHS Management and OHS Training. I hold what I believe is a well-founded perception that many of the things safety people and management do in safety are “displacement activities” (Displacement activities are things we do, things we put a lot of energy into, but which when we examine them closely there is no valid reason for doing them). My managerial and leadership roles in OHS have exposed me to a range of management techniques that are relevant to Business Improvement. In particular I am a strong supporter of continuous improvement and quality management approaches to business. I believe leadership is the often forgotten key to excellence in most aspects of life. I hold the Australian Defence Medal and am a J.P.(Qualified). I have many fond memories of my time playing Rugby Union when I was a young bloke.

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