Reasons Every Safety Professional Should Take a Technical Writing Course
Safety professionals have the technical competencies and analytical skills necessary to solve logistical problems – but that knowledge only goes so far if you can’t communicate it effectively.
As a safety professional, having finely tuned writing and communication skills is just as important as having that foundation of knowledge. Effective written communication allows you to build solid working relationships within your professional community, as well as with C-suite executives and the general public.
Here are 10 key reasons why every safety professional should take a technical writing course to hone their written communication skills:
1. Your writing reflects your professionalism
Being able to communicate technical information in a simple, accessible way is reflective of how well you understand these concepts. If the only way you can explain an idea is by repeating highly technical jargon, this can come across as if you don’t have a depth of knowledge around the topic but are simply repeating a textbook definition.
It’s important to be able to strike a balance between technical, formal, and conversational language. Skilled professionals should be able to switch between modes of communication with relative ease, and find the “sweet spot” where they can communicate concepts in a way that is not only clear and simple, but also credible.
2. Your instructions have to be readable and doable
Having safety policies and guidelines in place is necessary, but if workers can’t quickly understand and put those policies into practice, then you haven’t done your job.
Clear guidelines are an important part of solving problems as efficiently and in as risk-free a manner as possible. If a reader cannot comprehend what is required of them, your work will be of little practical use, regardless of how much technical knowledge is incorporated.
3. It’s easy to over-explain technical data. Keep it simple
Understanding technical writing principles can make you more skilled at judging what information is the most important for the reader, and what information is supplementary or can be pared down. When you know a lot about a topic it can be easy to over-explain, or spend too much time on minutiae that has little bearing on the practical application of a concept.
Understanding how to share knowledge and information in the simplest terms can help for writing guidelines that keep your reader interested, and convey the “need-to-know” information first.
4. Your manager does not enjoying continually editing your writing
While it’s important for key company stakeholders to be on the same page when it comes to instructions and safety policies that are released to employees, your manager likely has more pressing responsibilities than proofreading your work.
Having a basic understanding of effective written communication can go a long way toward optimizing your organization’s use of time and resources. Ensuring that all workers can focus on their assigned duties is already an important aspect of safety planning. Being able to communicate concepts to all employees and workers who need to be aware can help make this a reality.
5. A consistent technical writing template is part of an organization’s brand
Every brand has a voice, and often that voice is reflected in both public-facing and internal documentation. Having a basis of knowledge with technical writing can give you a better understanding of how to develop a brand voice, and use a style sheet to maintain consistency throughout safety documentation.
Having a consistent voice in internal safety policy documents is another way to build credibility and ensure that your workers feel well-supported and part of a company that values attention to detail and quality work.
6. Team members need to understand and apply each other’s reports
Information about safety is often disseminated through different channels across an organization. What you write needs to be as clear as possible so that there is no chance of miscommunication when this happens. Every team member needs to be able to clearly understand your safety communications, so that they can use your contributions to inform their work and complete all necessary components of a project.
7. A disorganized document is often ignored
Just as clear, consistent communication will help to build credibility, disorganized documentation will undermine that credibility.
If workers read safety policies that are poorly worded, difficult to understand, or not relevant to their work, they will likely disregard those policies and choose instead to work from their own knowledge, experience, and opinions. This can create inconsistencies in the way individual team members do their jobs, which can in turn create an unsafe working environment for the broader organization.
Being able to organize and categorize information in a useful way is a cornerstone of developing a good safety policy and culture.
8. Proposals are won with writing style
Policies and procedures are reviewed as part of the vetting process when submitting work proposals. The people who come to you to get a job done need to be able to understand how your organization works, and what procedures you have in place to ensure the safety of all employees.
This means that you need to be able to communicate in a way that is appropriate for the knowledge level of all stakeholders, while also keeping your brand voice consistent, and ensuring that you avoid the use of internal jargon or industry-specific terms that may alienate outsiders. Having skills in technical writing can help you navigate this type of documentation and create winning proposals.
9. Not all technical report readers are safety professionals
Just because you understand the terminology and technical jargon in a safety document does not mean that everyone at a company will. As a safety professional, your job is to ensure that everyone at the company, regardless of their position, is able to clearly understand and enact safety policy and regulation.
Having some background in technical writing is key for being able to take complex, highly technical concepts and put them into language that even someone with little technical knowledge can understand easily.
10. Safety professionals have to make technical frameworks easy to understand and follow
A safety framework that is difficult to understand won’t be followed. Being a safety professional is not simply about knowing safety regulations – it’s about solving problems by putting those regulations and concepts into practice.
Safety professionals have to solve societal issues, making it important to be able to communicate effectively with various stakeholders, from governmental bodies and executives, to workers and the general public.
Are your workplace safety policies easy to understand and put into practice? At Fluent Motion, we know workplace safety – and we are experts in teaching and explaining safety concepts to a range of different professional audiences. We can help you ensure your safety policies meet the needs of all your workers.