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August 10, 2020

Improving Workplace Safety Thanks to Language Training

workplace safety

We are all familiar with the benefits of learning a new language, especially for business purposes. It can create more opportunities to establish partnerships, help to earn the trust of potential clients and expand international networks.

But we often forget how relevant languages are when it comes to internal communication and occupational safety. From understanding day-to-day job responsibilities to knowing emergency procedures, languages also play a key role in how a company is structured and, more importantly, in how safe and healthy its overall environment is.

How language and cultural barriers impact your business

It can be hard for your workers to understand safety if they don’t understand the language, and even studies support that. According to the Institute for Work and Health[1], a research organization based in Toronto, “new immigrant men report a high rate of medically-treated injuries due to work”. Many reasons justify this fact, but, as you can imagine, the inability to fully understand English is pointed out as one of the biggest obstacles.

When an employee faces language or cultural barriers – limited English skills or a hesitancy to speak to other colleagues, for instance -, it can prevent him/her to fully grasp the safety measures and, as a result, become more susceptible to making mistakes or generate serious accidents.

And don’t be mistaken: even if your employees show great conversational skills, specialized terminology surrounding things like chemical hazards or emergency procedures, may not be part of their vocabulary.

That’s why it is crucial to assess how languages impact your operations and how you can guarantee a safe, healthy, and positive work environment for everyone, regardless of their nationality.

Language training: the key to improving workplace safety

Companies that wish to improve workplace safety have several methods at their disposal. One of the simplest and more efficient ways to do it is to invest in a language training program specialized in the company’s industry.

No matter the sector, every company is required to train its workers to be safe on the job. However, many forget that language barriers are very often at the root of misunderstandings and work accidents, and that they should be addressed right from the start.

Independently of how great and well-developed your safety and health programs are, they won’t be of much use if your workers can’t fully understand the indications.
Remember: internal communication is the cornerstone of every organization. Without it, not only will be hard to develop a stimulating and positive work culture, as it will be nearly impossible to promote a safe and healthy environment.

How to detect if your company needs language training

Needless to say, if your company operates globally or if you are a local business with many foreign workers, investing in a language program should be a top priority. If you’re doubting it, here’s a simple method to assess your company’s need for language training:

– check your employees’ backgrounds and cultures. Try to understand how many different nationalities you have in the workplace and how efficiently they communicate with each other. You can even make a survey addressing their concerns about communication and safety within the company.

-review your safety training. Determine if the materials are easy to understand, based on your employees’ language skills, culture, and literacy. Once again, you can run a survey to detect their specific struggles.

-if you determine that the interactions aren’t smooth and that your employees have trouble understanding and carrying out the safety rules in place, you should consider investing in a language training program.

How Language Advantage can help you 

At Language Advantage, we know that learning a new language helps increase workplace safety. But we also understand that every company is unique and that each team requires a program tailored to their specific needs. That is why our instructors work very hard to understand the goals of each institution and design personalized programs.

Regardless of your industry, company size, or role, at Language Advantage we have the expertise to effectively enhance your internal communications. As a result, you will perceive higher productivity, better health and safety measures, and, above all, a more positive and happy work environment.

Safety in the workplace is critically important. Most companies that face workplace hazards devote considerable resources to reducing injuries and incidents, but they often forget how languages play a key role in the process. If you think that your company could benefit from language training, contact us and let us find the best learning solution for your team!

[1] IWH