The author:

David Jaenike
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April 9, 2021United StatesBlog

Photographing your workplace

It’s common for safety pros to photograph incidents of unsafe workplace conditions when walking through the facility. These photos are then typically sent to managers, supervisors, and/or employees to convey the hazard. Understanding how to take good photos of your workplace can have a powerful impact on your safety program.

How?

A good picture has the potential to send a strong message to viewers which can help streamline the necessary repairs and purchase orders by highlighting the hazard. For example: you identify an unguarded piece of equipment that requires a fabricated guard to protect against the hazard. Simply taking a picture of the hazard itself is often times enough to initiate movement on the project:

However, portraying the picture a different way may yield a stronger reaction from the viewer. Instead of focusing on the hazard itself, scope out the picture to show the entire workplace, and highlight the hazard like this:

Take a look at the picture above. This tells a slightly different story than the first picture which only showed the belt. We can now see the belt is at about waist level. It wouldn’t take much for someone's pants, or even a hand to get caught in the belt if the machine was running. This makes this particular hazard a more compelling story for repair compared to the first picture. The key is to capture the hazard in your picture, while simultaneously displaying the workplace from a higher level. Questions to ask yourself when taking a photo: How are the surroundings contributing to the hazard (ex: moisture around a shock hazard)? What message am I trying to convey with this picture (repair needs to be made, workers need to be trained, etc)?

A few more basic tips

1. Clean the lenses Your phone is in your pocket or hands all day long, so the lenses gets dirty. A fingerprint or smudge on the lenses can ruin an otherwise great picture - so before taking photos, try cleaning the lens with some cloth. 2. Use landscape orientation Try using the landscape orientation rather than the portrait orientation for some of your photos. The landscape orientation allows you to fit more into the photograph. Landscape photos also generally look better when viewing on a computer. 3. Avoid zooming in Most phones are equipped with a zoom function, but avoid using it. It enlarges the image but compromises quality, resulting in grainy, blurry images. Instead of using the zoom, get as close as you can to your hazard. If you have too much background in the photo, you can always crop it later without sacrificing the quality of the photo. Most native camera apps will have some sort of cropping feature. 4. Avoid using the flash if you can Phones don’t have a real flash. The bright LED light that the camera uses as a flash is slow and often too bright. This can result in washed-out images. If the area you’re photographing in is well lit, try to capture the hazard in the natural light.

That’s a wrap

Photography is an undervalued skill in the health and safety field. Having a working knowledge of how to take good pictures can impact the efficacy of your safety program. Taking a few extra minutes to capture good photos can really make your life easier as a safety professional.

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