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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. There have been a number of fatalities involving migrant workers employed in the UK.
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.
The TUC has published a guide for safety representatives which gives advice on how they can work with migrant workers to help ensure their health and safety is protected. It can be downloaded here.
Union learning reps from construction union UCATT have been helping migrant workers who speak only a few words of English improve their safety awareness by running basic language courses in a learning centre sited at the foot of the Canary Wharf Tower. The centre has proved very popular with the workers - who are mainly from Eastern Europe - and the learning reps say that a basic grasp of English can literally mean the difference between life and death for the workers on site.
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.
With migrant workers now employed in many UK workplaces, lots with only a limited grasp of English, TUC were anxious that safety training purely delivered in English was not being sufficiently well understood. This has prompted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the TUC to publish a new safety leaflet translated into 19 different languages. The new leaflets - 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 - are an attempt to improve safety awareness for this growing segment of the UK workforce.
'Your health, your safety: A guide for workers' provides information about safety rights at work, the level of safety training that workers should expect from their employers, and who they should complain to if they believe their safety is being compromised by poor workplace practices.
Copies of the leaflet can be accessed here.
The TUC has produced a leaflet for people coming to work in the UK from the eight new member countries of the European Union. The leaflet, [Working in the UK: Your Rights], gives information about your legal rights while you work here.