The safety message is the same, whatever the language.

One of the more difficult aspects of ensuring a safe workplace is getting the message across to all workers.

In any workplace there can be a number of barriers that prevent a clear message of safety in the workplace, some of these are:

  • Size of workplace;
  • Diversity of culture and nationalities in the workplace;
  • Educational standards;
  • Type of work performed by the business;
  • Structure of the business.

To address these issues it requires a holistic approach that provides a clear and understandable approach to working safely.

This can be achieved by standardising the format that information is conveyed.

For example the same format of safe operating procedure even if the type of work may be different.

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures revised in 2008, about 49 per cent of the state’s adult population aged 15 to 74 do not have adequate reading and writing skills.

This may not mean that individuals may not be able read. But it does mean that when preparing information that relates to working safely that the format it is presented is considered.

For example when presenting information in text use plain english, simple words that are easily understood.

It may be better to use more pictorial information to transfer information.

If your workplace employs workers where English is their second language, this also needs to be considered.

If there is a large cohort of a specific nationality it may pay to have the safety information translated into that language.

Also depicting information in pictures may help. If there is only one or two of a particular nationality it may be beneficial to use a mentor to help convey WHS information.

If the workplace is located over a large area or several different locations it is important that information is readily available across the site or sites.

Consistency of message and the format that information is conveyed should be maintained.

For information contact Craig Hortle or Janelle Whitehouse at the TCCI on 1300 559 122 or contact