Workers who don’t speak English fluently are a hot topic when it comes to safety training. But that’s not the only language problem that could be negatively affecting safety training, according to three new studies.
Two studies by Purdue University professors confirm that Hispanics — and younger workers — don’t understand all the industry-specific terms and acronyms used in 10-hour safety training required by OSHA for all construction workers.
Training too often takes for granted that they know MSDS refers to material safety data sheets and that lockout/tagout refers to eliminating energy sources to machinery.
A new report by the Conference Board of Canada finds when it comes to safety, companies don’t do enough to compensate for employees who are functionally illiterate.
Illiterate workers are at risk because they can’t read and understand machinery operating instructions, safety procedures, first-aid instructions, or policy manuals on workplace health and safety.
The Canadian study suggests employers must spend more money on improving employees’ literacy where necessary.
The Perdue reports include two suggestions:
- When dealing with new employees, make sure they know the definitions of terms before training begins.
- For Hispanic workers, it’s important not to discontinue use of the terms and acronyms because they’ll need to know them. Instead, trainers can look into using visuals during training to match pictures with unfamiliar jargon.
What have you done to help Hispanic, new or functionally illiterate workers when it comes to safety training? If you want to share your ideas, you can do so in the Comments Box below.