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For worke
ers with little or no understan
nding of spoke
en or written En
nglish or Arabic, employers aand those in co
ontrol may
need to m
make special arrrangements.

It is of co
oncern that riisks to health and safety aare potentiallyy increased when people w working on sites do not
speak an nd / or understtand English or
o Arabic. On cconstruction sites, in particu
ular, where chaanging conditiions often
require qquick reactionss to verbal co ommunicationss, the inability
y to speak an nd / or undersstand English or Arabic
could creeate a particula
arly high risk to
t health and ssafety.

This guida
ance is therefo ore intended to o protect the h
health and safe ety of non-English or Arabic sspeaking perso
onnel, and
others on site, whilst enssuring that they
y are not unfai rly discriminate
ed against.

Irrespectivve of whether the employee meets other ccriteria for the job (e.g. skills cardholder) wee will need to assess
a the
risks of a
any language barrier
b to health and safety a
and the contro ol measures required to overrcome those ris sks before
making a final decision.

Assessing the Risk

As with alll health and sa

afety hazards, in the first insttance it is impo
ortant to assess the risks asssociated with thhe fact that
the individdual does not speak and / or understand E English or Arab bic. We will need to identify iif the individua
al does not
speak English or Arabicc or does not unnderstand Eng glish or Arabic, these are two very different iissues. Many people
p find
it easier to
o understand a second languuage before the ey can speak itt with any degreee of fluency.

Risks mayy arise from a range of issues s: from the con

nsequences of not being able e to understandd the site safetyy induction
to the inaability to commmunicate dange er to others onn construction sites or offices
s. We need to assess the ris sk of each
activity annd identify wheere the ability to understand d and speak English
E or Arab bic is critical annd where it is not. Such
critical acctivities may in
nclude those such
s as workin
ng at height, confined
c space e working and activities thatt require a
permit to work regime. These types of activity mayy be deemed unsuitable for operatives whho cannot understand or
speak English or Arabicc.

The conditions on consttruction sites, by

b their very na stantly changing. We need to consider how many new
ature, are cons
ected potentia
or unexpe al dangers can n be effectivelyy communicate ed to those in
ndividuals whoo do not speak
k and / or
nd English or Arabic.

The best solution is to have

h a HSE ad
dvisor operatinng on the site who
w is fluent inn not only Engglish and Arabic, but also
some of the other comm mon languages e.g. tagalog, h
hindi, urdu – ho he current fluid ity of workforce
owever, with th e market –
this may n
not always be possible.

A well-trie
ed and successsful method of o dealing with the issue is to o have all non n-English speakkers working together
t in
relatively small manageable gangs and a working ga anger or superv h gang who caan act as their interpreter.
visor with each
This gang ger or supervvisor must stay with the ga ang at all time es in order to o deliver inducctions, briefinggs, routine
ns and generally act as their liaison with the
instruction e rest of the site team. Under certain condiitions the interp preter may
even have e a wider role in assisting wiith transport an
nd accommoda ation arrangemments. This “gaang interpreter”” approach
should be e discussed with
w the main contractor/clien
c nt at an early stage
s and included within thhe contract conditions; if
necessaryy a maximum gangg size per translator can be specified. Details
D must also be containeed within the Site
S Health
and Safetty Induction - in
ncluding our coontingency arra angements if th he “gang interpreter” is not avvailable for any reason.

In some instances, partticularly for low

wer risk activitie
es, we may have other emplo oyees who speeak both Englis sh and the
first langu
uage of the non
n-English speaking employee es. They can th
herefore arrang
ge for these woorkers to work together
t in
order thatt they can act as translators. Where there is a relatively high density ofo a particular ethnic group in an area,
there mayy be some exte cal community groups.
ernal translatorr assistance avvailable from loc

For instan
nces where low wer risk activitie
es are being ccarried out it ma cessary for metthod statements and risk
ay only be nec
assessme ents to be transslated into the appropriate laanguage and is ssued to the no
ominated workfforce assumingg that they
can read their own languuage.

Other measures that can assist in the safe integratio n of non-Englis

sh speakers intto the working environment in

 Not allowing lo
one working or allocating safe s to non-English speakers - hhowever, with th
ety critical roles he number
of people of different
d ethnic
c backgroundss, currently wo orking in the Middle
M East, tthis would be difficult to

Rev. 00, 08 March 2012  Page 1 of 2 Health and SSafety of Non‐En nglish Arabic  

  Pe mation Sheet 
ersonnel on Sitess/Offices ‐ Inform
 The allocation of low risk worrk and/or areass for non- English speakers – again, as aboove, this would be difficult
to enforce  
 Ensuring the maximum
m o international ly recognised pictorial
use of p e 
ng signs within the workplace
 Providing a greeater degree ofo training and a
allowing additio
onal training tim
me – i.e. the usse of ‘speech bubble’
b –a
olbox-talks training aid 
multilingual too
 Providing a grreater degree of supervision
n -Using extern
nal translator services
s wheree the provision of written
information is considered ess
 Considering English/Arabic la dvisors and longer-term workeers 
anguage coursses for HSE ad

Whateverr methods are e chosen, it is vital that the ir effectivenes

ss is closely monitored.
m Sim
mple observatio
on of their
working ppractices should indicate whether the requ uisite message es have been received and understood by y the non-
Arabic speakerss and any defic
ciencies must b
be acted upon immediately.

In Summ

Once we have identified d this particularr risk and conssidered reasonable means of reducing it, if there is still a real health
and safetyy risk, then it may
m be accepta able to refuse too employ non-English/Arabic
c speaking perssonnel for particular jobs.

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  Pe mation Sheet 
ersonnel on Sitess/Offices ‐ Inform