50% of Non-Native English Speakers Don't Understand Their Safety Training

CMR Risk & Insurance Services Inc. > Blog > Business > 50% of Non-Native English Speakers Don’t Understand Their Safety Training
Posted by: CMR June 17, 2024 No Comments

Companies may think they have workplace safety resources covered, but they may not have taken into consideration one very important detail: Whether their workforce can understand them.  

One-hundred percent of industrial workers say that safety training is essential for fostering a safe workplace, according to the Vector Solutions State of Industrial Worker Safety and Well-Being Report. Yet half of non-native English speakers say their company doesn’t offer training in their native language — creating serious risks for employees and employers alike.

“This is a big deal and has an impact on the training,” says Clare Epstein, the general manager of commercial at workforce management solution Vector Solutions. “And the fact that these workers don’t feel as comfortable speaking out against workplace hazards could have direct implications on their safety overall.”

The data collected by Vector Solutions found that non-native English speakers were 127% more likely to say they do not feel comfortable reporting workplace hazards than native English speakers. And while the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide training in a language employees understand, it often doesn’t require them to provide training resources in the exact language or dialect. For example, if an employee has any kind of proficiency in English, even if it’s low, providing training resources in English could technically meet the requirement. 

“The complexity arises if you have a multilingual workforce,” Epstein says. “If you’re doing in-person training, you need an instructor who speaks those languages, and if you have a workforce that speaks 10 or 15 other languages, that’s where employers struggle with what to do.” 

OSHA estimates language barriers are a contributing factor in 25% of job-related accidents. There’s an outsize toll on psychological safety, too: Non-native English speakers are 27% more likely to feel pressured to prioritize productivity over safety in the workplace, according to Vector Solutions, potentially lowering engagement and increasing turnover

“The safer and happier you are at work, the more likely you are to stay at work,” Epstein says. “But if you don’t feel comfortable at work, you’re more likely to leave. And companies are already struggling with skill gaps and retention risks as it is.” 

“Access to training is essential to fostering a safe environment and that applies to everyone,” she says. “Employees are more diverse and more multilingual than ever before, and you’re not really going to be able to have a workforce if you don’t foster inclusion and create a workforce where everyone has the opportunity to learn.”

Article Published By: BenefitNews.com

Article Written By:

Paola Peralta Associate Editor, Employee Benefit News

Author: CMR

Leave a Reply