Conference Interpreting Tool Box Talks

Tool Box talks have proven to be an extraordinarily successful part of many safety programs that construction companies use. What makes them so great? They are brief, saving time and money. Large groups receive the same instruction. They are tailored to specific safety needs and trends. They boost team spirit, morale, and safety culture. Finally, the results are trackable over time.

However, a company could make a great commitment to investing in safety and still experience serious problem areas. In many parts of South Carolina, 30% to 60% of construction workers statically are Hispanic. In North Carolina, the percentages are even higher. Many companies hire other immigrant nationalities as well. Many of these workers speak barely enough English to get by at work.

I often hear people tell me that people who move to the United States need to learn English. Since English is the primary language spoken here, I believe that learning English is important if you are going to make the U.S. your home. However, experience has shown that many immigrants have very little or no education.  Many cannot read or write in their own language. With such limited education, it is very unlikely that they are equipped to undertake the daunting task of learning another language while working 40 to 60 hours a week.

If the priority for a company is to reach the heart of their employees to embrace a strong safety culture, the company is obligated to provide it in the languages best understood by its diverse workforce. The language of their heart. It is unrealistic to expect limited English proficient (LEP) workers to fully absorb what is being said in English. Often, when an employee does have better English skills, much of the brain power is devoted to mentally understanding and translating what is being said. Usually, this employee loses information he is unable to retain.  After all, many people speak between 140 and 200 words per minute.  There is a lot of information to be lost.  There is little or no time to meditate and take to heart the important message.

This scene is worsened when this employee is expected to transmit the information to his coworkers.  Now it has become a game of telephone, and safety is no game.  What can be done?

When you think of conference interpreters, typically people call to mind images of United Nations interpreters with fancy equipment. Perhaps you also imagine court interpreters using smaller equipment for groups of people. Alfonso Interpreting has adapted this type of professional simultaneous interpreting with transmitters and receivers for company meetings and Tool Box talks, which is a wonderful solution.

While a Tool Box Talk takes place, all the LEP employees can listen in Spanish via headset.  All the Spanish-speaking employees previously missing the message will now understand everything and value what is being said. The same can be done in almost any language that a group of employees speak.  In fact, if you have a large crew with say, Spanish, Russian, and Mandarin speakers, simultaneous interpreting can be done for all of them at the same time!

Because simultaneous equipment is used, the Tool Box talks would continue to be brief. Employees morale is boosted and the results trackable over time. It’s not cheap. However, the investment in our expert conference interpreters with construction expertise will manifest itself when the safety data is calculated. Tool Box Talks is often considerably less than other safety related expenses. It can be a perfect way to try our services. When the data is complete, you determine if investment in greater services are worth it.

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