In the article, “Safety is a common language,” for The Trade School at SBE website, author Chad Scott points out that the usual work meetings or tool box talks aren’t helpful if some workers can’t understand what’s being communicated. Different cultures and viewpoints can also affect how workers receive safety messages and training. In addition, some workers may be afraid they’ll lose their jobs if they report hazards, injuries, or question unsafe acts of others—especially if the reporting worker is undocumented. He lists these ways to help all employees become a part of your safety program:
- Emphasize safety leadership and communication—including a managerial commitment to workplace safety.
- Educate workers about their rights and the fact that they can’t be retaliated against for reporting safety hazards.
- Involve workers in the process of developing safety policy and training programs.
- Choose supervisors or trainers familiar with each culture and language to customize the messages and delivery so they’re properly received.
As an employer, you’re required to train employees about hazards in the workplace. You also need to make sure workers understand their safety training. Here are some best practices to consider:
- Provide safety training and materials in the appropriate languages.
- Schedule frequent and focused training, rather than longer training sessions with multiple topics.
- Use hands-on exercises and skill drills.
- Instruct with videos and pictures, and not written materials.
- Train in small groups with workers who share similar spoken languages to make employees more comfortable.
- Provide one-on-one training sessions to demonstrate safety requirements and ensure employees understand them.
- Don’t send workers to do a job until they’ve proven they understand and can follow the required safe work practices.
Another way you can improve understanding of safety rules is by posting hazard symbols and safety signs on hazardous equipment and work areas. Symbols can help effectively convey risks and warnings to everyone in the workplace. Use them to emphasize training programs and safe work practices. You should also employ supervisors with second language skills who can build a rapport with workers and share key safety phrases.
By following these steps and staying involved in your employees’ safety training, you’ll help ensure you have a safer workplace and possibly reduce the risk of costly injuries. Remember, we’re here to help you manage your risks and avoid needless accidents. Talk with a Hortica representative for more information.
For more information on safety preparation for your business, check out the Hortica Resources section.
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