Language barriers in the workplace can have a direct impact on the effectiveness of safety programs. The first step to an effective safety program that accommodates Spanish-speaking workers is to add bilingual employees to the safety committee. By having Spanish-speaking individuals on the committee, you can ensure Hispanic employees are comfortable with talking to the safety committee, asking them questions, offering feedback, and giving suggestions.
Start off on the right foot with new employees by offering orientation in the worker’s native language. By doing so, you can show to the worker they’re needs are taken seriously and future safety and technical trainings will also be offered in Spanish. Building evacuation plans can also be translated into Spanish and distributed to workers on their first day.
When the wellness of a worker is at stake, it is important to not take any shortcuts. An understanding of important safety topics like PPE and emergency exits can be the difference between serious injury. Training should be offered so the worker can fully absorb the information. Employees who work on or with pieces of equipment that are especially dangerous, separate training should be offered in Spanish. Spanish documentation from the equipment’s manufacturer should also be provided and the equipment should have a warning label in both English and Spanish.
Safety signs, tags, and labels present another opportunity for translation. Posting Spanish signs and communication materials will help to promote workplace safety and ensure all of the workers are on the same page. Bilingual safety signs are a cost-effective and simple approach, but it can have a major impact on a worker’s well-being.
Using a little extra time and resources to make your safety program accommodating to everyone is extremely important. By offering training, information, and safety materials in a language workers can understand, the more likely they are to be safe! Having a bilingual workplace safety program will help to break down language barriers and Spanish-speaking workers will feel much more comfortable at work.