Posts Tagged ‘English as a second language’

I was on a flight earlier this week from Dallas to Atlanta.   The flight was diverted to Nashville to refuel after circling the Atlanta area multiple times.   We landed, refueled, and waited for the thunderstorms to pass so we could safely finish our journey to Atlanta.   During this delay, people used the restroom and stretched their legs.  We were not at a gate, thus nobody was allowed to leave the plane.   Sitting two rows in front of me across the aisle was a woman and her young child.   Both sat in their seats very quietly and calmly during this delay.  The pilot announced for everybody to return to their sets and turn off all electronic devices – we have been released to Atlanta.    The plane taxied to the end of the runway and revved up the engines for taxi and takeoff.   The lady two rows in front of me started saying (in broken English) “No, I get off in Atlanta”,  “Help”, “Stop”, etc.   The people around her were trying to calm her down and explain what had happened for the past two hours.   This woman and her child did not speak English very well and had no idea that we were not in Atlanta.   This woman thought we were leaving Atlanta and heading to the planes next destination.  Nobody spoke Spanish and she didn’t speak English.   There was clearly a worried, frantic look on this lady’s face thinking that we were leaving her destination.

This incident got me thinking about safety and training.   In our facilities with a DIVERSE WORKFORCE where English is not always an employees primary language, do ALL employees understand our safety training?   Do they read and understand safety signs?   Do they understand their supervisor or co-worker when hazards are identified?   Or do they sit back and pretend that everything is OK like the lady and her child on the flight?     We have an obligation to provide a safe workplace.   Therefore, how do we accomplish this with a DIVERSE WORKFORCE?

In my opinion, if you have a workforce in which you have employees where English is not their primary language, you need to ascertain whether or not those employees are able to understand safety training, signs and instructions.   If not, you have a responsibility to have somebody interpret the training and instructions so the employees understand.   You have a responsibility to post signs in multiple languages.   You need to recognize that most of the time employees are NOT going to come forward and tell you that they do not understand.    Most employees that do not understand are going to act like the lady and her child on the plane and sit back quietly and pretend.

I am going to figure out a way to ensure that all employees understand training and instructions.  I am going to post signs in multiple languages to ensure that all employees are aware of a hazard.   What are you going to do to address the issue of a DIVERSE WORKFORCE?

STAY SAFE!     **  Jeff  **   214-215-2434