Employees on construction sites must be ready to handle a wide range of operating conditions, work with diverse equipment and face a variety of risks. Effective training becomes essential, but it is easy to overlook the need to consider individuals who are not native English speakers when developing training programs. People of Latino heritage will make up approximately 19 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor found, and OSHA standards include provisions for this demographic.
According to the DOL, OSHA strongly encourages that employers provide training materials, occupational rights handbooks and similar content in an employee’s native language to ensure safety best practices are maintained on a consistent basis.
Training in multiple languages
The DOL explained that individuals can be put at unnecessary risk if the safety materials and similar work documentation made available to employees is not provided in their native language. Construction companies must ensure they do not overlook non-native-English speakers and provide all materials in the native language of employees to ensure maximum comprehension and retention.
Living up to OSHA standards is only part of the issue here. In practice, providing training materials in employees’ native languages is critical because individuals who understand English, but are not native-English speakers, could misinterpret instructions or fail to completely understand the context provided within training materials.
The advantage of eLearning
Partnering with an eLearning provider can ease some of the language barriers facing construction companies. Instead of having to hire an interpreter or needing all of your internal materials translated into multiple languages, online courses can provide the information your workers need in whichever language they require. Implementing an eLearning strategy from a provider that offers materials in multiple languages ensures that your employees get access to the materials they need in the best language for them.
Language barriers are a complex matter. The precise meaning of phrases and the full information they provide is made up of the literal definition of words and the associations we have for those words. A native speaker has a lifetime to become accustomed to these nuances. Offering materials to employees in their native language is key as safety is a priority on construction sites.
For more information about native-language safety training, preview RedVector’s OSHA 10 Spanish Course.