We’re often taught to remember that you can’t tell everything about someone else based on their appearance. While that’s great advice for interpersonal relationships, it can make things challenging when you’re in a large, hectic job site or an industrial facility. With multiple types of employees, contractors, and equipment moving every which way, wouldn’t it be great to have an instant visual index to learn key information about other employees?
This isn’t another psychology article about how to read people—at least, not in the way you might think. Instead, we’ll be talking about how it’s important to use visual communication techniques to tell workers apart in the industrial workplace. Whether it’s on a construction site or in a heavy manufacturing plant, on-site identification can be a key element of workplace safety and organization.
How can you accomplish that? One of the easiest ways is to use the tools of high visibility clothing such as high visibility vests and shirts. Printing and color-coding on these garments can provide an ideal method for communicating key information about each worker. Let’s take a look at the key benefits and top methods of on-site identification.
Why On-Site Identification Is Important
Why is on-site identification an important tool that’s used in many job sites and facilities around the world? There are plenty of reasons, including:
- Certain hazardous areas and machinery may require specific safety training. On-site identification gives supervisors an easy way to spot personnel who are working in areas that they don’t have the safety qualifications for.
- On many job sites, a wide variety of contractors and subcontractors are present. Contractors and subcontractors may need to be differentiated from employees and each other, and on-site identification can help separate these key groups.
- Productivity on the job site requires that workers and supervisors be able to quickly identify each other. When a worker needs their supervisor or a supervisor needs a worker for an urgent matter, they may not have the time to scan an entire large job site for the right face.
- Most job sites require security considerations such as keeping unauthorized individuals off the site. Using on-site identification tools can help quickly identify people who aren’t supposed to be present.
On-Site Identification Strategies
So, what kind of methods can be used to create an effective on-site identification system? Here are some of the most common:
- Color-Coding: Color-coding is one of the simplest and most commonly used methods for on-site identification. Types of PPE from safety vests to hard hats are now available in a wide range of colors that allow employees in different roles to be differentiated from one another.
- Custom Printed PPE: It doesn’t get much more straight to the point than having an identifying name or logo printed on high visibility clothing. Custom printed PPE can be a great idea for organizing workplaces where numerous subcontractors are present and can be identified by different logos.
- PPE Styles: In some cases, wearing different styles or designs of PPE may be sufficient to differentiate one group of workers from another. Contractors may already use a different style of PPE than employees, making it easy to tell them apart.
Any of these on-site identification strategies can produce good results on job sites. It’s all about choosing the method that best suits the unique needs of your job site and creating a system that’s functional and easy to use.
How to Create and Implement an On-Site Identification System
The process for creating an on-site identification system will be different for every industry and every job site, but it will usually work something like this:
- Identify Needs: Determine the on-site identification needs of your workplace. Ask questions such as:
- Are there any areas of your workplace in which it’s currently difficult to identify workers quickly enough?
- How many contractors and subcontractors are usually in your workplace?
- What are the visual conditions of your workplace?
- Which workers are most important to be able to immediately identify?
- Identify Methods: When evaluating an on-site identification method, think about the following among other relevant questions:
- Does the method comply with any relevant PPE standards that may be present in your industry or within your company?
- Is the method cost-effective for your budget?
- Can the method be scaled and/or reconfigured for other job sites, or will it be site-specific?
- Are customized on-site identification options available to suit the needs of your job site?
- Implement System: When implementing your system, consider factors such as:
- Workers and supervisors must be trained to use the system correctly.
- Compliance must be enforced to make the system useful.
- The system’s implementation must be consistent and feature a standardized framework.
- Evaluate System: After a project’s completion or a pre-set time, evaluate your system on criteria such as:
- Did workers and supervisors report that the method made their jobs easier?
- Did accidents and/or delays caused by misidentification decrease?
- Did contractors and subcontractors report that the system was easy for them to use and understand as well?
Limitations of On-Site Identification
On-site identification can be an important tool for making workplaces function more safely and smoothly. However, it’s only one part of a complete commitment to workplace safety. These are some limitations to on-site identification that you should be aware of:
- On-site identification doesn’t, in itself, prevent accidents; rather, it provides supervisors and employees with more information that can help them spot potentially dangerous situations.
- On-site identification can only provide visual indicators. More complex information, such as an employee’s specific certification level, may be too difficult to convey through on-site identification.
- On-site identification doesn’t equal ANSI-compliant high visibility protection. If your workplace requires PPE to be compliant with ANSI 107, always check the PPE’s specific characteristics rather than assuming compliance.
- On-site identification has to be designed carefully to avoid making things more confusing. An identification system should communicate the most crucial information in the simplest way possible without becoming overly complex.
On-site identification can be a key element of your workplace’s safety strategies. Although it won’t solve every safety problem, it will make many of them easier to deal with by creating an easy basic framework for quickly identifying other individuals on the job site.