The CEO of adult literacy support service Workbase, Katherine Percy, says that workplace health and safety training is often ineffective because around half of New Zealand's workforce has literacy and/or numeracy gaps. These affect their ability to manage the more complex demands of health and safety in the workplace, reports the NewsTalkZB website.
'Literacy issues make it difficult to reduce workplace accidents because people often don't fully understand the signs and labels, material safety data sheets, or the health and safety training they receive and are therefore unable to put that knowledge to use,' says Percy on the Voxy website.
Percy notes that the changing nature of New Zealand's workforce means that more employees may not have English as a first language.
This is similar to the situation in South Africa.
Your employees don't all speak English as a first language, so use other ways to ensure they understand health and safety training
While English is the international language of business, there're ten other official languages spoken in South Africa.
So presenting a talk about health and safety issues in English, and following up with printed leaflets – again in English– isn't going to get your message across to every employee.
An easy way to make sure your employees understand their health and safety training is to make use of safety signs.
There are seven types of safety signs that your business can display to prevent accidents, according to the Health and Safety Bulletin.
Seven types of safety signs to include in your health and safety training
1. Prohibition signs
These safety signs mean that an action or activity is not allowed, like the 'no smoking' sign.
2. Mandatory signs
These safety signs indicate that an instruction must be carried out, like showing a pair of safety goggles to show goggles must be worn in this area at all times.
3. Restriction signs
These safety signs place a numerical or other defined limit on an activity or use of facility.
4. Warning signs
These safety signs warn of a hazard or hazardous condition that isn't likely to be life threatening, such as a slippery floor.
5. Danger signs
These safety signs warn about a hazard that's likely to be life threatening, like in a high voltage area.
6. General information signs
These safety signsindicate the location of, or direction to, emergency related facilities such as exits or first aid equipment.
7. Fire signs
These safety signs will help employees locate fire extinguishers and fire-fighting equipment.
Remember to include these safety signs in your health and safety induction
training as different literacy levels and cultures could interpret these messages differently.