Native Language Support Key to Worker Safety
In response to a growing need for bilingual safety training, a utilities contractor and a construction company in south Florida are taking steps to ensure a safer working environment for limited-English-speaking employees. Cartoons and short captions in English and Spanish are the tools Fort Myers resident Larry Capello uses in SafetyToons4U, his new spiral “flip book” on safe practices for underground utility workers. "People are getting hurt or even killed because of lack of effective communication," says author Larry Capello. The guide pairs simple graphics with Spanish and English captions to teach important safety information quickly. Naples-based Mitchell & Stark Construction also takes language seriously in its safety measures. Ramon Chao, the company’s safety director, requires all employees to be certified in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's 10-hour safety course for construction workers. Last year, a federal stimulus grant secured by U.S. Safety Inc. helped the company achieve a nearly perfect OSHA certification rate by hiring nine Spanish interpreters to train employees. Chao also routinely pairs Spanish-speaking workers with a Spanish-speaking supervisor to ensure good communication. Meanwhile, Capello hopes to publish safety guides for several more industries in the future. He is currently planning flip books for the hospitality, landscaping, and long term care industries.
From "Employers, Firms Seek to Speak the Universal Language of Safety"
News-Press (FL) (11/17/10) Ruane, Laura
Source: ATA Newsbriefs - November 2010