Safety Through Language Training

One day you’re walking down the hallway at work, and you notice a large red sign with the word “CUIDADO” stamped on the front in bold letters. You can’t read the sign, so you step around and go on your way. At the end of the hall, you stop just short of stepping into a massive hole in the middle of the floor. You forgot that there was construction going on and realize that the sign was probably a warning meant to keep you from visiting this area of the facility.

The ending of that story isn’t necessarily a bad one, but it certainly could have been. The lack of understanding in regard to the language the sign was written in is convenient for making the point of the story, but unfortunately it’s a reality for many workers in the world today.

A large number of workers are spending eight to ten hours a day in a work area with hazards around every corner. There are signs and instructions for how to stay safe in the midst of the danger; however, they are written entirely in another language.

In that situation, what do you do? How do you respond? What can you do to ensure the safety of your workforce?

How One Company Made Safety a Priority

Safety sign

Gilbane, a real estate development and construction company, realized that it needed to make safety a key focal point. With a large number of its employees interacting daily with a non-English-speaking workforce, they knew that the safety implications couldn’t be ignored.

With that in mind, they provided language training for their employees in order to breakdown these communication barriers and fully support the safety requirements of the business.

As in many instances, this decision was not driven merely by safety concerns. Here’s what Linda Bates, Gilbane learning technologist had to say, “Selecting Rosetta Stone was a natural extension of our Gilbane Cares philosophy. We see everyone on our sites as family, so being able to communicate in our trade contractors’ native language means a deeper connection that goes beyond compliance.”

For Gilbane it’s not just about safety and compliance. In the end it’s about making their contractors feel like they are appreciated and supported, no matter what language they speak. What starts off as a solution to a safety problem has the potential to morph into something more. It’s a great reminder that taking care of employees’ physical needs often has a way of paying dividends in employee engagement in the long term.

If you’d like to learn more about Gilbane’s results and how their employees used language-learning tools to overcome communication gaps, please click here.

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