Can your employees read and understand H&S notices, procedure and documentation?
If not, and language is a barrier, we have the solution.
Understanding the extent of your responsibility (and liability) as an employer
Under English law a person is deemed to have read something if they have signed it. If that person can not read the document in the language it is presented in however, there is a problem…
- The Health & Safety Act 1974 states that every employer has a duty of responsibility to ensure that all health and safety procedures have been clearly communicated and understood.
When employing foreign nationals, key health and safety documents should be provided in their native language. This may include Safe Systems of Work and Risk Assessment documentation.
Contracts can also be translated to confirm conditions of employment and minimise future misunderstandings
- The H&S Executive’s website already contains information in 30 languages, and also offers a telephone interpreting service so they obviously take this issue very seriously indeed. Businesses are making increasing use of migrant skills and non-English speaking labour. But often the migrant worker will speak limited amounts of the new language (when they arrive) and read / write this new tongue even less. This causes potential health and safety issues if not considered and addressed. This is where language translations should be considered.
- This is a larger concern to directors and business owners as they now can be made personally responsible for such issues as ‘corporate manslaughter’.
The only true way to avoid this is to consider language translation as part of the initial employment cost of migrant workers and as part of the health and safety audit. If you cannot be sure that your employee can read documents related to the health and safety parts of their job you will need to consider making a translation available in their language.
Likewise, if they are to be given any interactive training, interpreting may be required if language levels are not high enough. For the larger business it might be possible to give additional health and safety training to a member of staff who can speak these other languages and ensure they both receive the translations and understand any training given. They can then assist or manage the training of these new staff.
In the long term
You could consider providing English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses for workers who need to improve their English. This can be done in the workplace itself or through local teaching providers, and either within or outside working hours subject to operational requirements. A range of flexible and work-focused ESOL qualifications, with health and safety content included, is now available.
If you feel that you would benefit from looking again at your current provisions for non-English speaking workers, we would be more than happy to offer a free review and advice.
Just some of the services available from MTT (UK) Ltd:
Independent proof reading of existing documents or documents prepared by own Voiceovers/sub-titling of training films staff.