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Incident Prevention Magazine

Rey Gonzalez

Three-Way Communication for Utility Workers

The purpose of effective communication is to ensure understanding between two or more people. It is an important defense in the prevention of errors that can result in incidents. While the effects of mishaps due to ineffective communication will differ, the unfortunate organization can find itself facing legal, regulatory and financial consequences, and its people dealing with a significant emotional event as a result of a lost teammate.

Many industries have established protocols for effective communication. For example, in the medical field, 66 percent of all sentinel events reported from 1995 to 2005 were related to ineffective communication, according to The Joint Commission, a nonprofit that accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 U.S. health care organizations and programs. The commission defines a sentinel event as “an unexpected occurrence involving death or serious physical or psychological injury, or the risk thereof.” To help combat this issue, organizations in the medical field have begun requiring their employees to engage in a repeat-back process when information is verbally communicated to them. This is because, in general, verbal communication presents a much greater risk for misunderstandings than written communication.

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