HSE and TUC team up to break down language barriers

Concern that migrant workers could be missing out on crucial health and safety training because employers are not providing material in any language other than English has prompted the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and the TUC to publish a new leaflet in 19 different languages.

Your health, your safety: a guide for workers provides information about safety rights at work, the level of safety training that workers should expect from their employers, and who they should complain to if they believe safety is being compromised by poor workplace practices.

Employers have a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act to provide all their employees with the appropriate safety training to enable them to do their jobs without risk of illness or injury. But, according to the TUC, so far this year, there have been a number of fatalities involving migrant workers employed in the UK.

The HSE and TUC said that, with many migrant workers in the UK only having a limited grasp of English, safety training was not being sufficiently well understood.

TUC deputy general secretary Frances OÕGrady said: “Workplace deaths in the UK are on the increase and there’s a danger that we could soon start to see more fatalities and serious injuries at work as language barriers mean safety messages are going over workers’ heads. Thorough, but easy-to-understand training is vital if workers are to stay healthy and safe at work.”

Union learning representatives from the construction union Ucatt have been helping migrant workers who speak only a few words of English to improve their safety awareness by running basic language courses.

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