A Deeper Look Into Visual Literacy

A selection of papers and articles from our partner organizations and COVE thought leaders

Improving Workplace Safety Through Visual Literacy



Visual Literacy: A Leadership Competency That Enables Critical Thinking

Today, leaders at all levels of business live in a world of visual inputs. This dizzying energy of visual messaging creates immediate challenges for leadership. On the receiving end, how do you separate the trivial from the important? On the transmission end, how do you communicate your message through the visual clutter and get the attention of people who are often distracted and pre-occupied by their own visual consumption?

This white paper will explain visual literacy and how it enhances leadership competencies in this visual age including critical thinking, seeing what others miss and communicating analyses and decisions.
Building Leadership Competencies

Hazard Identification: A Cornerstone of Management Systems and Safety and Health Programs

As part of occupational safety and health management systems and workplace safety programs, hazard identification processes are fundamental. Too often hazards are missed, or not assessed and mitigated properly, with near misses or incidents being the consequences. Identifying conditions in the workplace and fixing them can eliminate risks that employees may encounter and reduce the hazards that have the potential for injury. However, common barriers exist that makes hazard identification less effective. This paper examines these barriers and shares how a workforce trained in Visual Literacy can dramatically improve risk mitigation and overall organizational effectiveness.  
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Strengthening Behavior-Based Safety, Human Performance and Management Systems with Visual Literacy

Visual Literacy improves our observation skills crucial to identifying hazardous conditions and incident causal factors. Beyond improving visual acuity, it develops critical thinking – What do you see? What does it mean? What do you do about it? In this paper, we will discuss how these questions and Visual Literacy can be applied to three important areas of occupational safety and health: behavior-based safety (BBS), human performance, and the components of occupational safety and health management systems. 
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Visual Literacy As a Foundational Building Block For Engaging and Developing Valuable Employees

Engaged employees are highly involved in and enthusiastic about their work and workplace. They are psychological “owners,” drive high performance and innovation, and move the organization forward. However, employee development and engagement practices have not kept pace with generational changes in the workplace. This white paper explains how Visual Literacy, a “foundational element” missing from traditional employee development, can be used to help employees improve and enhance existing skills and develop new ones that support your organization’s mission and goals.  
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Hazard Identification: A Cornerstone of Management Systems and Safety and Health Programs

A Passion for Safety_Page_01

What is it about workplace safety and health that inspires professionals?

This ebook shares the emotional passion and vision that drives the COVE team – and fellow EHS pros who care about their people and will do whatever it takes to protect them. It also provides a new framework to processing visual information more efficiently, a method to see better: to identify, interpret and interact with your environment based on accurate visual information.

Download eBook

Elevating Safety Performance With Visual Literacy And Human Performance Strategies

Many safety professionals contend the time has come for fresh, even radically new thinking, to elevate safety performance and safety’s status and reputation among senior leaders, middle managers, supervisors, frontline employees and other stakeholders. This paper will outline how the combination of Visual Literacy and Human and Organizational Performance are essential components of this new movement and work hand in hand to identify and reduce risk.
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The risk management maturation process

Identifying hazards and then assessing their risk potential brings needed clarity to what might harm our workers as well as damage property. We need a clear picture of our hazard inventory and risk profile so appropriate preventive and protective measures are developed and implemented before harmful, possibly serious events occur. This white paper describes how Visual Literacy can help organizations secure quality risk management.
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Seeing The Gaps In Your
Safety Program

As organizations struggle to make safety training interesting and as they find it hard to ‘keep things fresh’, Visual Literacy offers a vehicle by which safety officers can address a clear and important gap in their safety programs – and simultaneously renew and refresh existing programs.
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Identifying Hazards In The Workplace:
A New Approach That Starts With Seeing

In this white paper we look at insights into why we sometimes miss the hazards that are staring us straight in the face and how using Visual Literacy principles can improve our ability to identify them before they lead to an incident.

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Visual Literacy’s Contribution To Serious Injury And Fatality Prevention

This paper not only provides a high-level overview of the key principles and approaches associated with Serious Injury and Fatality (SIF) prevention and the primary concepts associated with Visual Literacy (VL), but ‘connects the dots’ between the two making the case that the integration of VL into an organization’s SIF program can improve the program’s effectiveness and help prevent SIFs in real-time.

What Makes Hazard Identification Really Work?

This paper outlines a four component process that can support our ability to be more successful in identifying and addressing hazards that exist in the workplace in a sustainable manner. The process involves developing an inventory of the hazards we identify and determine what risks they pose. Determining where similar hazards may exist elsewhere and address them as well. 
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Leading Safety By Seeing Safety: A Look At Safety Leadership Through New Eyes

Helping leaders understand how they impact safety performance is crucial. This white paper explore some of the ways in which Visual Literacy can help leaders be more effective in providing the framework and context for successful safety performance.
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Re-Framing Incident Investigations
Using Visual Literacy

In this white paper we look at insights into why we sometimes miss the hazards that are staring us straight in the face and how using Visual Literacy principles can improve our ability to identify them before they lead to an incident. 
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The Campbell Institute at The National Safety Council, a partner with COVE and The Toledo Museum of Art, wrote a series of research papers focused on evaluating the effectiveness of visual literacy training on workplace health and safety outcomes. Below are the first two papers in this research series.

Visual Literacy: How "Learning to See" Benefits Occupational Safety


This paper is a brief summary of what Visual Literacy is and how it can benefit occupational safety. Additionally, it includes an outline of a research project that involves the Campbell Institute, its members and partners, COVE, and the Toledo Museum of Art.

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A Second Look: Update on
Visual Literacy


The second paper, provides background and preliminary research results of the Visual Literacy pilot project. It also addresses the question, does “learning to see” improve our ability to identify hazards in the workplace, keeping us safer while on the job?

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ISHN Featured Article

The Hazard Hunt Will Never Be the Same

Editor for ISHN, Dave Johnson, talks about the benefits of Visual Literacy in safety and how it's application extends beyond recognizing, prioritizing and fixing hazards. Visual Literacy teaches us skills that can help reduce errors, identify gaps in our safety program, improve observations such as used in behavior-based safety, increase employee engagement, and improve incident analyses.


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