In a nice quiet office, it’s easy enough to lean to the person next to you and talk with ease. Even if the person you need to speak with is a few desks away, it’s no hassle to walk over and talk to them that way.
But, things aren’t so easy in an industrial setting, where spaces are large, and loud machinery is often on the go. Even if you wanted to get up and talk to someone across the way, the risk of that forklift is enough to keep you where you are. Yet, here more than anywhere, proper communication is essential for keeping everyone safe. Someone operating a machine at one end may need to warn someone on the other end of a hazard. But, if they shout, they won’t be heard. And, if that happens, a severe accident could follow.
Which is why, as the owner of such a business, you need to develop a communication system which works. This is sure to increase productivity and decrease stress, as well as keeping all your colleagues safe. Which, in turn, will keep you on the right side of the law. To help you perfect this, we’re going to look at some communication solutions you may not have considered.
Your own sign language
Signs and signals are one of the fastest ways for industrial workers to communicate. That’s not to say, of course, that all your workers need to sit through a sign language course. But, developing some simple signals which all workers understand could make a huge difference in an emergency. If, for instance, a worker on one end of the factory spots a potential hazard with a machine, they can use the stop signal to let the worker in question know. That’s sure to be faster than faffing around with any other communications you could put in place. So, make sure to mention such signals during training sessions. Admittedly, there is a risk that the colleague running the machine won’t see this straight away. But, someone close by is sure to spot what’s happening and let them know.
Of course, signals aren’t going to help at all if visibility in your factory is low. On top of which, poor lighting could prove a significant health risk for a variety of other reasons. So, don’t hesitate to call in an industrial electrician company who can set up lighting which serves well here.
You want to ensure there are no dark areas in corners, and that colleagues from either end of the space will be able to see each other. It may also be worth considering raised platforms in some areas to help here. If everyone’s on the same level, there’s less chance that they can communicate with each other without worry. That can cause issues for obvious reasons, especially when there are obstacles in the way. So, think about placing raised colleague platforms around dangerous machines. That small step could well save someone’s life should anything happen.
Walking and talking
For less urgent communication issues, a walkie-talkie system could be your best idea. Industrial factories across the world use these, and it’s easy to see why. While not the most complex technology, walkie talkies can communicate using nothing more than battery power. What’s more, most options are easy to use, with just a button to push before you speak into the microphone. For safety reasons, it may be worth making these mandatory for every worker onsite. Place them on the wall by the colleague entrance, and let everyone know to take one the moment they arrive. They should then keep these visible and easy to access for the duration of their shifts. Bear in mind, though, that there will be some expense involved here. You’ll need to ensure your entire workforce has one, and may even want a few spares in case of breakages. Depending on your workforce, that could be a hell of a lot of walkie-talkies. But, that price will be nothing compared to the expense you’d face if there were an accident due to poor communication. You’ll also find that these increase the efficiency of operations as a whole. After all, there won’t be anymore long-winded walking to and fro. Staff will be able to collaborate with the click of a button.
A tannoy system
You may also want to install a tannoy system. This ensures that you can call all your colleagues together with ease. If you need to speak to someone in particular, you can just tell them through the tannoy instead of trying to hunt them down. Of course, you’ll need to make sure the speakers on this are loud enough to be heard over the hum of your machinery. At the same time, you don’t want to deafen your colleagues! Luckily, most tannoy systems have volume control. This will allow you to find a volume which suits your workspace. Bear in mind that staff may grow frustrated if you sit in the office and bug them on the tannoy all day. Avoid using this for kickstarting people into work, or shouting about issues you can see. If that happens, go out into your factory and speak to the colleague in question one-to-one. Instead, keep the tannoy for important announcements, or calling on colleagues you have extra tasks for and so on. You may be speaking from up high, but be careful you don’t get a God complex about your tannoy!
There are a few simple but effective ways to improve communication in an industrial setting. No matter how you look at this, communications here are never going to be as easy as they would in, say, an office. But, by turning your attention to this, you should have no problem developing a system which works. Bear in mind that one of these points on its own may not do the trick. Signals, for instance, leave room for error. So, it’s worth implementing at least two suggestions to ensure success.