How to Communicate Environmental, Health and Safety Risks to the Public

 

As tension grew between several industries and local communities at risk over environmental pollution and human health, citizens, activists and governmental agency officials began to pay closer attention to the communication practices of the medium-to-large-sized companies and multinationals in describing these dangers.

In the last thirty years risk communication studies grown steadily as a consequence of the increasing complaints regarding the quality, trustworthiness and accuracy of the industry’s reports about risk issues and the interaction with affected communities.

But, how can we define risk communication? In general, we can say that risk communication is any public or private communication that informs people about the existence, nature, form, severity or level of acceptability of a risk.

In a more specific context, especially the one in which health, safety and environmental managers operate, the meaning of risk communication, as well as policies and strategies about how to communicate minor and major environmental risks to the public and stakeholders, has become more precise in its objectives and assumptions about the different target audiences that risk communication messages need to reach.

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