SQE Health and Safety

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Health and Safety with an International Workforce

The UK workforce is seeing an increase in international workers, especially from countries within the European Union. It is not uncommon for a large portion of a team to have English as a second language. This is especially true for industries such as the construction industry, where health and safety is an integral part of any project. Although the workforce may be able to communicate sufficiently to carry out the day-to-day tasks, team leaders need to be aware of the health and safety implications that come with an international workforce.

Firstly, health and safety standards are different in every country. The UK has very high standards of health and safety which results in a safer work place for everyone. Some other countries do not have such stringent guidelines, or the guidelines are commonly viewed as optional. There have been regular updates in the news recently of work place fatalities in major construction projects, such as building the World Cup stadiums in Brazil. The shock factor of these news reports demonstrate the international differences in health and safety. Team leaders have to ensure that guidelines are adhered to with British standards being upheld.

non uk construction workers not as health and safety aware as in britain

The UK has very different standards to other parts of the world in terms of Health and Safety

Breaking down the cultural habits of workers may require managers to give extra training to some staff and be aware of mistakes that staff may make if they are not fully aware of the potential consequences of their actions. Health and Safety Consultants SQE, have a broad range of experience in working with international workforces and can readily identify the extra challenges that are presented in this situation.

Communicating the health and safety regulations to an international workforce needs to be properly managed. Many immigrant workers from across the EU will have basic English, and be able to communicate sufficiently on site. However, reading and fully understanding health and safety documents and contracts will be a challenge to non-natives.

When SQE is called in to assist with the health and safety of a project we always ensure that our documents are translated into the languages of the workers. This small bit of extra effort can prevent injuries and save lives. Presenting a document in English to a worker who will not understand it is as useful as not presenting it to them at all.

We are serious about safety and if one person on site has not followed the correct regulations then it puts all workers in danger. We can translate documents into all languages, but most commonly we translate into German, Polish and Bulgarian.

Team leaders can not ignore the extra challenges that come with employing an international workforce. Maintaining health and safety standards throughout the whole project needs to be managed effectively through an understanding of different cultures and providing all the information clearly so the workers can understand it and act on it.

T: 029 2036 2033 E: info@sqe.ltd.uk