Migrant Workers - Overcoming the Language Barrier
…to ensure health and safety of migrant workers, it is vital that they are trained and able to speak English.
Report by Loughborough University and the Institute of Civil Engineering
In order to ensure health and safety on sites employing migrant workers, particularly in construction, it is vital that they are adequately trained and able to speak English.
A report based on the South East construction industry carried out by Loughborough University and the Institute of Civil Engineering revealed that many contractors are not providing tuition and often do not know their employees’ nationalities.
The CSCS (Construction Skills Certificate Scheme) health and safety test can be taken in other languages than English, however the report asks how useful the test is since employers have stressed the importance of workers being able to speak English in relation to safety.
Another factor addressed in the report was that a large proportion of migrant workers working in construction had no prior experience before entering the UK.
The report suggested that a pan–industry body should be created to formulate best practice when employing migrant workers, and including an English language test within the CSCS test.
There are responsible employers however who do take good steps to ensure health and safety in such circumstances.
These could also be applied to electrical workers, where adequate knowledge and understanding of health and safety issues could reduce the risk of accidents and even fatalities.
Measures that employers can take to ensure the safety of migrant workers are:
- Organising inductions where health and safety information is detailed.
- Providing interpreters, especially for health and safety issues.
- Pairing a UK worker with a migrant worker.
- Ensuring that gangs comprise both migrant and UK workers, always including a worker who speaks English.
- Providing translations of signs and instruction manuals.
- Providing training assessments in workers’ own languages.
- Providing English language classes.
- Encouraging migrant workers and UK workers to socialise together.
Find the report at the Institute of Civil Engineer’s Website: Health, safety and welfare of migrant construction workers reportStart of page