Translating Safety in Your Workplace: Getting Started

According to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of translators and interpreters is expected to grow by 29 percent from 2014 to 2024. Yes – this is one of the fastest growth rates of any occupation! Why? They attribute this to an increase in globalization along with a more diverse population in the United States. A more diverse population may also mean an increase in multilingual employees, ESL employees or employees with limited English proficiency.

We’re all familiar with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA updated their policy in 2016 to require employee safety training “using both a language and vocabulary that the employees can understand.” If your employees are non-English speaking, not proficient enough in English, or understand content better in their native language, then safety translation is be the way to go.

We exhibit annually at the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) Conference and Expo. This past year, we spoke with quite a few Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) professionals on the best ways to remain OSHA compliant with safety translation. We  are summarizing these conversations in a series of blog posts.

Here are a few places to start:

Employee Handbooks

Employee handbooks are important tools for communication between an employer and their employees. They contain important information including (by not limited to) anti-discrimination policies, company policies, compensation, general policies and procedures, employee benefits, information technology, leave, safety and security. Employee handbook translation can ensure that a multinational company or a domestic company with multilingual workers has all of this important information presented to them in their native language.

Safety Data Sheets (SDSs)

Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) communicate the risks, hazards, and protocols for hazardous chemical products and materials. A lot of times, the wording can be difficult to understand (even in English)! Translating your SDSs will help multilingual employees better understand the risks, hazards, and protocols which will in turn lead to a safer workplace.  We’ll look a bit more closely at SDS translation in our next post.

Employee Training Content  

Employee safety training can help prevent injury and illness in the workplace. Whether it is personal protective equipment, lockout-tagout (LOTO) training, hazard communication, forklift safety and operation, employee training is required and provided. Training content may include videos, PowerPoint presentations, classroom training, on-site training, or eLearning. If you are interested in providing any of these components into another language, there are solutions available.

Talk with your language service partner about options for audio and video/video localization and subtitling, interpretation, eLearning localization, and of course… translation.

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  1. Bily Stephen 08.10.17

    We often feel translation needs and search for easier and cheaper services than traditional translation agencies.
    Your content will be helpful for all readers. Thanks for sharing such an informative blog!!

  2. Susan Laura 02.05.18

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