The Language of Safety

The language of safety is like the language of love—it is universal, diverse and affects every company and employee that speaks another language other than English. Protecting your employees is a tremendous responsibility and should be taken seriously because it is the law, according to OSHA.

Safety is complex in its own right and to have it misunderstood, improperly conveyed or misinformed could have tragic results for everyone involved.

Safety is complex in its own right and to have it misunderstood, improperly conveyed or misinformed could have tragic results for everyone involved. PHOTO: Safety by Design Consultant Services

Making sure all employees fully understand safety messages, the policies, procedures, instructions and safety training is critical in protecting their exposure to workplace hazards.

But what about the challenges of “speaking” safety when English is not your first language?

I’ve given this topic a great deal of thought since I returned from a roofing industry event in Chicago. There, our Hispanic Outreach Coordinator spoke at a safety session attended by many Hispanic/Latino employees.

She has served as an interpreter for several law firms who have defended/worked with Hispanic employees who have been injured on the job. In her presentation, she emphasized the importance of being trained in the language of the employee. She also believes that language-based training should extend to activities, such as tool box talks and documentation including safety manuals and written programs.

Another concern was that some employers use interpreters to convey the information during training or from the foreman when giving specific job-site instructions to the Hispanic/Latino or Polish employees. If the trainer/foreman is not bilingual, how does he/she know what is actually being translated and if it’s done in the appropriate context? The effort is appreciated, but the consequences could be extremely costly.

It’s also important to realize that employees who speak different languages may have a limited education or technical understanding which affects the learning process—enforcing the need to for a system to measure the effectiveness of training whether you’re in manufacturing, fabrication, automotive, construction, retail, food, railroad, recycling or logistics.

As an employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your employees are properly trained for their jobs and demonstrate that they fully comprehend and understand the information being presented to them. You cannot assume that your employees are comprehending the information because they simply sign a sheet of paper, sign into a training session or initial that they reviewed your safety manual.

Safety is complex in its own right and to have it misunderstood, improperly conveyed or misinformed could have tragic results for everyone involved.

Unfortunately, many Hispanic/Latino employees believe they are not being properly trained because they really don’t fully understand the training they are receiving, the necessity, and requirements for utilizing PPE, safety equipment, fall protection and fall arrest devices.

The language of safety is as important as the message being delivered. If the information is not delivered properly then it can’t be assumed that it’s being accurately understood. The importance of training is significant enough for OSHA to address it in their standards.

If the employee’s vocabulary is limited, the training must account for that limitation. By the same token, if employees are not literate, telling them to read training materials will not satisfy the employer’s training obligation.

As a general matter, employers are expected to realize that if they customarily need to communicate work instructions or other workplace information to employees at a certain vocabulary level or in language other than English, they will also need to provide safety and health training to employees in the same manner.

Of course, employers may also provide instruction in learning the English language to non-English speaking employees. Over time this may lessen the need to provide OSHA Act training in other languages. Additionally, OSHA’s training provisions contain a variety of specific requirements related to employee comprehension. Employers need to examine the standards applicable to their workplaces to be familiar with these specific requirements.

If you’re unable to effectively communicate your safety programs/training to your employees in a language they understand regardless of the industry or work environment, then please contact Safety By Design at (855) 747-2327. We have bilingual OSHA Outreach Trainers to ensure you’re not only complying with the OSHA standards, but to protect your employees, reduce their exposure, reduce your company’s liability and exposure to fines and possibly criminal prosecution.

Read this article in Spanish on the next page.

Safety By Design Consultant Services

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Asphalt Roofing Technical Bulletins Are Available in Spanish

The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association now offers eight of its educational Technical Bulletins in Spanish.

The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association now offers eight of its educational Technical Bulletins in Spanish.

The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association now offers eight of its educational Technical Bulletins in Spanish. The new Spanish-language documents cover steep-slope issues, like algae and moss prevention, asphalt shingle recycling tips and the prevention of ice dams on asphalt shingle roofs. Low-slope and commercial roofing topics, including cold-weather installation techniques and the damaging effects of ponding water, also are covered. ARMA plans to convert more of its educational resources and roofing publications into Spanish in the future. Download the free bulletins.

NRCA Partners With Bilingual America to Host Latino Roofing Success Day

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) will partner with Bilingual America to host Latino Roofing Success Day on Feb. 28 in Dallas. The Spanish language program is designed to inspire Latino roofing workers to see their value within the roofing industry.

Roofing contractors are encouraged to send their Latino workers to attend Latino Roofing Success Day to motivate them to achieve success within their companies.

“Latino Roofing Success Day is designed to transform the mindset of Latino roofing workers and to help them recognize their significance in the industry,” says Amy Staska, NRCA’s associate executive director of education.

Ricardo González, founder and CEO of Bilingual America, will be the event’s featured speaker. He has been an active speaker within the roofing industry, most recently as a keynote speaker at the Midwest Roofing Contractors Association‘s annual conference, and is the author of The 12 Hidden Truths to Learning Spanish.

Latino Roofing Success Day will teach Latino roofing workers to think differently and take more initiative, encourage them to take ownership of their work and help improve company processes, and teach them about best industry practices through networking opportunities.

Stimpson Translates Website into Spanish

Stimpson proudly announces the launch of its new Spanish language version of its industry website.

With the click of the language link under the Stimpson logo the website is translated.

“This latest update to our website is definitely the result of listening to our customers and trying to implement something to improve their overall customer service experience both in Spanish and English,” states Jennifer Marcroft, Advertising Manager at Stimpson Company. “At Stimpson our emphasis is always on both our products and our Customers.”

Stimpson is a manufacturer and supplier of metal eyelets, grommets, hole plugs, snap fasteners, washers, clamps, as well as many other types of metal fasteners and related attaching machines. Stimpson’s entire metal fasteners product line is unmatched for quality and supported by on-time delivery and attractive pricing.

Proudly celebrating over 160 years in business, Stimpson Company, Inc. is ISO 9001 certified, RoHS, REACH and DFARS compliant, and maintains the largest inventory in the industry, shipping over two billion parts annually from their 260,000 square foot facility in Pompano Beach, Fla.

NRCA Awarded $137,000 OSHA Grant, Will Conduct Fall-protection Classes in Coming Year

The Rosemont, Ill.-based NATIONAL ROOFING CONTRACTORS ASSOCIATION has been awarded a $137,000 grant through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Susan Harwood Training Grant program. The grant will enable NRCA to continue to conduct its successful Roofing Industry Fall Protection A to Z course free of charge for a year and will include classes taught in Spanish.

“NRCA is acutely concerned with preventing roof-related falls. This OSHA grant has been and continues to be vital to that pursuit,” says Tom Shanahan, NRCA’s associate executive director of risk management. “It allows for one-on-one hands-on fall protection and prevention training that is importantly roofing-specific.”

Roofing Industry Fall Protection A to Z is a one-day class that provides updates about fall-protection systems and includes current OSHA state-plan requirements. It also features hands-on equipment demonstrations and techniques for self-rescue and relief of suspension trauma.

NRCA will conduct 12 classes in eight cities, including four classes in Spanish. View dates and locations at RoofingMagazine.com/events.

The Susan Harwood Training Grant Program provides grants to fund education and training for workers and employers to help them recognize workplace safety and health hazards, implement injury and illness prevention measures, and inform them of their rights and responsibilities. This year, OSHA awarded $10,687,000 in grants to 78 non-profit organizations.

For information about NRCA and its services and offerings, visit NRCA.net.

Residential Section of IKO Industries’ Website Available in Spanish

IKO Industries Ltd., a global manufacturer of residential and commercial roofing products, is now making the residential section of its website available in Spanish.

According to Director of Marketing Carol Perkins, the move was made in response to a rapidly growing need to provide Spanish-speaking homeowners, installers, contractors and others involved in the roofing business with the same level of expertise and product information other site visitors enjoy.

“IKO roofing shingles and accessories, such as underlayment, ice and water protector and other components of our ShieldPRO plus+ roofing system have earned a well-deserved reputation for quality. Homeowners and contractors alike have come to ask for IKO by name.

“There’s a large and fast-growing segment of the population whose mother tongue is Spanish. We wanted a way to help them to feel that same level of confidence and trust in all of our IKO products.

“By ‘speaking their language’, we hope to simplify their buying decision. It’s complicated enough to understand the technical aspects of asphalt roofing shingles. Imagine dealing with a language barrier at the same time!”

She goes on to say that more and more Spanish-speaking contractors are starting up businesses, too.

“Contractors have always told us how much they appreciate IKO’s support, especially in helping them build their businesses. They know they can count on us for accurate, timely information on IKO roofing products as well as sales, service and technical support.

“By extending the product information on the residential side of our website to include Spanish, as well as English and French, we’re confident we will succeed in building trust with them, too. Everything that Spanish-speaking homeowners and contractors need to know about all of our asphalt roofing shingles will be right at their fingertips.”

Ms. Perkins observes that globalization is presenting all companies with unique challenges and opportunities.

“As an international leader and innovator in the roofing industry for over 50 years, IKO is very well positioned to deal with these new realities. We’ve always responded to the changing demands of our contractor and distributor networks as well as to those of their customers. Communicating in their language of choice is in everyone’s best interest.”

She encourages homeowners and professional roofing contractors to check out the residential section of IKO’s corporate website, now in Spanish.

Spanish Versions of NRCA Safety Compliance Programs Now Available

With workplace accidents always a concern for roofing contractors, the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) has released Spanish versions of three of its safety compliance programs: Serving Up Safety: A Recipe for Avoiding Falls on the Job, NRCA’s Material Handling Series: Overhead and Understood and NRCA’s Hazard Communications Program: Know the Signs.

Serving Up Safety: A Recipe for Avoiding Falls on the Job is a comprehensive tool for training new and seasoned roofing workers about all aspects of fall protection for roofing work.

The Spanish version provides everything contractors need to provide to their Spanish-speaking roofing workers so contractors comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) fall-protection requirements for roofing work. The program includes an interactive DVD program explaining all fall-protection rules pertaining to each of the 50 states with about one hour of content per state and printable PDFs of an instructors guide to assist trainers in conducting and delivering informational classroom sessions; a student workbook; and a student handout that summarizes key fall-protection rules and components.

The Spanish version of NRCA’s Material Handling Series: Overhead and Understood gives roofing contractors the tools to train workers so they are in compliance with OSHA’s requirements for crane and hoist operations, signal person qualifications, qualified riggers, forklift operations and working with rooftop powered equipment.

Each module includes a DVD, helmet decals and printable PDFs of an instructors guide, learners manual test and answer key, tailored assessment and training tools, customizable wallet card and certificate of completion.

NRCA’s Hazard Communication Program: Know the Signs helps roofing contractors provide their workers with training required by OSHA for its new Hazard Communications Program, including a DVD, instructors guide and student manual, PowerPoint® presentation for use in facilitating training sessions, written examinations to assess worker comprehension, sample hazard communication program, a chemical inventory list template and safety data sheet request letter for use in developing a company program.