At the heart of almost every safety problem is confused and imprecise language. Language is identity. It’s the lens through which you are seen. It not only expresses what you think, but also shapes how you think and how you influence.

To assist, the NRSPP has released the Thought Leadership: “Terminology and Communication,” where linguistics expert Brett Rutledge explores this issue.

So why should safety language matter you ask?

‘Say what you mean, mean what you say.’ It’s a common refrain, and seldom is the effect more powerful than in safety. Communicating safety expectations so they are clearly understood – or not – can have major impacts for individuals and organisations. This Thought Leadership Paper: Terminology and Communication looks at how the biggest problem in health and safety communication is the illusion that communication has occurred at all. The language we choose and the way we communicate makes all the difference when it comes to safety performance.

As Brett outlines, “People forget that words are contextual and don’t have universal meanings. That’s why if you look up any word in the dictionary, you’ll see a list of definitions.”

This Thought Leadership Piece sets the scene for understanding the issue of language and communication strategies for safety.

The key is language. If you control the language, you control the context. If you control the context, you control the result.