Why Localization is just as Important when it comes to Bilingual Safety

Guest blog by Louise Taylor.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, private industry employers reported approximately 2.9 million non-fatal workplace illnesses and injuries during 2016. That’s 2.9 cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers. Many employers work hard to protect workers’ safety, but it is harder to do so in certain industries. Construction workers, for example, are at higher risk of experiencing a workplace injury than those who sit at a desk all day.

The prevalence of immigrant workers in the construction industry can exacerbate this risk if language skills are an issue. Latino Worker reports that the Latino workforce has a 35% higher risk of casualties on the job site than their non-Latino peers. As such, professional translation is a useful tool that many construction companies can use to communicate with their workers. Managers can use translated materials to deliver messages around health and safety, role expectations and any number of other matters.

However, an equally important service – and one that construction companies often overlook – is localization. Localization services help to shape the way that information is delivered in order to ensure it is suitable for the intended audience. While translation merely converts the text in question from one language to another, localization looks at cultural considerations. It takes into account cultural differences and how this impacts on the way that information will be received.

Localization experts are therefore well placed to guide companies on how best to reshape the translated materials that they are delivering to their workforce. By presenting the information in a way that will resonate more deeply with workers, the company can ensure that it is doing all it can to reduce incidences of workplace accidents and keep workers safe.

Employers who are new to the concept of localization are often delighted with its ability to help them engage with immigrant workers in a way that translation alone doesn’t manage. Boosting their cultural understanding is key here – it’s an essential part of effective working with a diverse workforce. Understanding the way that workers of different nationalities perceive and process tasks and challenges can help employers to rethink the way that they present information in relation to those tasks and challenges. Understanding their workforce’s differing values and approaches to work is a powerful way to improve communication, trust and engagement. In industries like construction, this can be a powerful tool in improving workplace safety standards.

Delivering information in the right way removes the room for error and doubt that can otherwise creep in. Many workers don’t feel confident in expressing their concerns when they don’t understand what is required of them. Instead, there can be a temptation to simply push on and do what they think needs to be done, while hoping it’s right. This immediately increases the scope for workplace accidents. Improving communication between employers and employees can remove this margin of doubt and leave workers feeling fully informed and empowered. Not only will they be less likely to have a workplace accident, they’ll also feel more invested in and happier in their jobs – something from which every employer can benefit!

Louise Taylor is content manager for Tomedes translation company. She’s in charge of the Tomedes translation blog and the Tomedes Business translation center. Louise is a writer who has had a passion for languages since an early age. She holds qualifications in Latin, French, German and Spanish, as well as her native English. She is also well on her way to speaking Portuguese fluently.

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