Translating safety

OSHA assistance for providing safety and health training in your employees’ languages.

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Do all employees at your company speak, understand and read in your workplace’s primary language? OSHA standards require that an employer must instruct its employees using both a language and vocabulary that the employees can understand. For example, if an employee does not speak or comprehend English, instruction must be provided in a language the employee can understand. Similarly, if the employee’s vocabulary is limited, the training must account for that limitation. By the same token, if employees are not literate, telling them to read training materials will not satisfy the employer’s training obligation.

Employers are expected to realize that if they customarily need to communicate work instructions or other workplace information to employees at a certain vocabulary level or in a language other than English, they will need to provide safety and health training to employees in the same manner.

While overall workplace fatalities have fallen, workplace fatalities among Hispanic workers, particularly those in the construction industry, have risen almost 35 percent in the last decade. The OSHA website provides access to OSHA’s Spanish-language information and Hispanic compliance assistance outreach tools, programs and training resources, including:

In addition, the OSHA Office of Training and Education has a variety of Hispanic outreach and training resources, including:

OSHA’s free On-site Consultation Program helps small businesses, including those that employ Spanish-speaking workers in high-hazard industries, meet their obligations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and federal and state standards. This program is confidential from the OSHA inspection effort.

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