Language challenges in workplaces

In the state of California, employers are required to have an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP).  Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations (a)(1) requires employers to include “a system for communicating with employees in a form readily understandable by all employees.”  Employees need an understanding of workplace health and safety issues and potential hazards at their place of employment as well as steps to take to ensure their safety.  An effective written communication of safety and health concerns, safety meetings, training programs, new worker orientation, and postings between workers and supervisors should include language translation to those whom do not speak English.  By providing these sources in a language other than English your company can increase productivity and reduce or prevent costly injuries and illnesses.

Communication is the key for a successful workplace.  For example, in California the construction and agriculture industries have a heavily based workforce made up of Spanish speaking employees.  With that in mind, English is not the first language for all employees.  From my experience on construction sites and agriculture settings speaking Spanish is prevalent.  Employees experience a sense of relief, comfort, and rapport when voicing concerns, questions and clarifications in the language they comprehend without the fear of being misunderstood or reprehended.  Employers should consider hiring a translator to help with the needs the company may not have on site.  These factors should be taken into consideration when developing an IIPP in order for all employees to work safe and efficiently.

Feel free to contact The Cohen Group if you need assistance translating your company’s IIPP or any other Cal/OSHA written program from English to Spanish.