The Application of Visual Literacy to your Safety Programs


Research in visual literacy shows that people may miss as much as 90% of what they are looking at. This is the case whether we are driving, reading, viewing a piece of art or just generally going about our everyday lives. Given this gap, how do we function in our everyday lives? Well, our brain does a very good job filling in the gaps based on prior experience and assumption. That’s why you probably counted 11 triangles when there’s actually not a single complete triangle. Most of the time this isn’t a big deal – until it is!

When applied to our safety programs these gaps in our visual efficacy are alarming. Just imagine the consequences if your people could be missing up to 90% of what’s in front of them –  risks, engineering problems, trip/slip hazards, missing guarding etc!  By definition, if they are missing things, that means your safety program is missing them too.

That’s why we have created COVE: Center of Visual Expertise. We are bringing the science of art and the teaching in visual literacy to safety by combining the deep talent and expertise of Toledo Museum of Art with that of seasoned safety professionals in the field. In doing so, we are helping improve critical elements of your safety program such as:

  • Risk Identification
  • Observation skills
  • Incident Management
  • Non-Routine/Upset Conditions
  • Dynamic Risk Assessment
  • Audits and Reviews

All are heavily reliant on the ability of workers to See the Whole PICTURE™ and accurately assess the situation. Training from COVE helps you integrate Visual Literacy into your existing safety programs by teaching you about Visual Literacy tools and the application to each of these key elements of your safety programs.

We invite you to attend our upcoming workshop on September 26 & 27, 2018 to learn more about Visual Literacy and to see how you can start applying its teachings towards a safer work environment. Reserve your spot HERE or contact Sandhya Holston at or call 567-343-1405.

Colin Duncan

Colin has worked extensively with leadership teams to facilitate the development of strategies to improve safety and operational performance. He has also worked one-on-one with executives to help them refine their leadership skills and improve their ability to deploy successful strategic safety initiatives. He is known as a specialist in operational culture and its impact on safety. Follow Colin on LinkedIn


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