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Workplace Safety


By October 1, 2012No Comments

The American melting pot is fast becoming a smorgasbord of distinctive cultures. During the past 10 years, more than half (51%) of new entrants into the U.S. workforce have been minorities. The next 10 years will see a dramatic increase in minority workers, many of whom might lack English proficiency and familiarity with basic workplace safety precautions. To help you meet the safety needs of an increasingly diverse workforce — especially where language barriers are an issue — we’d recommend these guidelines:

  • Speak slowly, explain fully, and repeat important points several times.
  • Choose simple words and avoid technical jargon (whenever possible).
  • Use a translator with groups of employees who have only minimal English skills.
  • Team up non-English-speaking employees with English-speaking employees.
  • Provide handouts in the language(s) that trainees speak and read.
  • Make sure that workers are able to understand written materials. Don’t assume that they can read forms, signs, written directions, etc.
  • Stress the importance of following safety regulations and policies.
  • Show employees how to use safety protections and explain why they’re important.
  • Demonstrate while you speak and use pictures, diagrams, props, etc., to supplement your words.
  • Follow up on the job to make sure that employees properly apply what they’ve learned in training.