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Annie Hayes

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Language barriers trigger workplace deaths

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Migrant workers, many with a limited grasp of the English language have died this year because health and safety training material has only been delivered in English.

In reaction to these findings the Health and Safety Executive and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) have published a leaflet ‘Your health, your safety: A guide for workers’ in 19 different languages.

Employers have a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act to provide all their employees with the appropriate safety training to enable them to do their jobs without risk of illness or injury but delivery of safety training purely in English is causing fatalities.

The new leaflets have been published in Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Czech, Greek, Gujarati, Pashto, Portuguese, Polish, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Tamil, Turkish, Ukrainian and Welsh, as well as English.

TUC Deputy General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Workplace deaths in the UK are on the increase and there’s a danger that we could soon start to see more fatalities and serious injuries at work as language barriers mean safety messages are going over workers’ heads.

“Thorough, but easy-to-understand training is vital if workers are to stay healthy and safe at work. Unions are doing all they can to help foreign workers grasp the basics of English and now employers can use our leaflets to make sure the safety message is being understood loudly and clearly. “

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Annie Hayes

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