In 2002, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Workforce Development Board published a paper titled "Cultural and Language Barriers in the Workplace" (Charlotte-Mecklenburg, 2002). Although this board is not be specifically related to the oil and gas industry, the lessons contained are important. A couple of the more salient points:
In their research, interviews with Human Resources professionals indicated that language and cultural barriers play a significant role in how people learn and adopt health and safety instructions. Specifically, workers with "little or no English are at much greater risk of having an accident on the job because of not having a full grasp of safety standards."
Cultural norms also lead to issues of communication. In some cultures, a social hierarchy often exists that can create "bumps" in communication in the workplace.
In an environment of increasing diversity such as oil and gas development, and with specific consideration of the multiple cultural dynamics in play in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), language skills and culture will impact how effectively HSE management systems are developed and implemented. Total Abu Al Bukhoosh (Total ABK) is located in the UAE emirate of Abu Dhabi and has been working for several years to address the issues of language and culture through development of a simplified HSE management system approach.