With the increasing move to globalization, SH&;E Professionals encounter both employees and contractors from various countries. SH&;E professionals recognize that multi-language worksites are a growing challenge for the profession and that the challenge keep growing in complexity. These encounters bring challenges in respect of being able to ensure that not only the culture of the ‘host’ organization is understood and adopted but any rules relating to safe working practice are also communicated in a positive manner.
Some multinational companies have employed a creative training and communication techniques to communicate with workers who speak a language other than English. Some companies have implemented management systems that require workers to learn the language of the nation they are based in. This will become more important as the world economy continues to grow. Saunders and Wheeler (Safety Management Handbook) consider as part of the ‘Safety Mix’ Education and Enforcement as two of the primary pillars of effective implementation. Being able to undertake these functions in such a diverse cultural and linguistic environment requires the application of best practice in order to ensure that the very act of translation does not become a burden. The European Union at the time of this paper consist of 28 countries (with a further eight countries) wishing to join. The EU has 24 official languages. This presents practical issues even in communicating SH&;E issues. This is equally applicable for Gulf Co-operation council countries and Asia-Pacific region.
Understanding basic cultural and linguistic challenges is essential if the safety professional is to be successful in a regional diverse environment. SH&;E professionals must be more proactive in multi-language worksites since this challenge will only continue to grow.
The panel session engages the attendees with practical experiences which can be adopted to achieve the desired output. The panelists from Europe, China and Gulf Region seeks to illustrate this with personal experience of working in other than their ‘home’ environment and the lessons learned in respect of foreign environment.