The Communication Gap

Tarmac’s Dr Bill Price talks communications

The building trade in UK has seen a massive assimilation of personnel from elsewhere in the EU – probably more than any other industry. While many of these workers speak very good English (certainly a lot better than my grasp of the Polish language!), this cannot always be taken for granted.

So how can we ensure that we communicate effectively with people when they are looking to purchase tools and materials, making sure that they purchase materials that are fit for purpose and that they are aware of any health and safety issues? Given the range of languages spoken in Europe, it is simply not feasible to have sufficient translators in the store, so we have to look elsewhere.

As the old adage goes, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and pictograms can play a major role in getting the message across. Health and Safety labelling on packs of cement and products containing cement has recently been standardised as a result of the full implementation of the Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulation (or CLP). The new hazard pictograms are clear and use the same imagery to draw attention to the potential risks across Europe so that all workers should be familiar with them and understand their meaning.

In many cases you will see bags of building materials also using pictograms to illustrate how they should be used. For instance, post-fixing products use images to clearly show the solution being poured into a hole that is part filled with water (although some people are still surprised when they try and mix them in a bucket and find that the trowel gets stuck in a bucket of solid concrete!)Bags also display a series of thumbnail sketches guiding the user through the process. Similar ideas are seen on product datasheets and point of sale material.

So, make full use of all available imagery and be less reliant on text and you can satisfy potential customers, wherever they come from.

About Guest Blogger - Bill Price

Bill Price is National Commercial Technical Manager at Tarmac’s Cement business

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