26 September 2023

WorkSafe at work on upgraded languages

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Workplace safety messages are to be easier for all workers to understand with the release of updated guidance from WorkSafe Victoria.

Executive Director of Health and Safety at WorkSafe, Narelle Beer said the Communicating Occupational Health and Safety Across Languages Compliance Code applied to workplaces where the use of languages other than English required employees to understand health and safety information, receive training and participate in consultation.

“It replaces the 2008 compliance code, with updates to more clearly describe the duties and obligations employers have under the OHS Act and OHS Regulations for communicating health and safety information in appropriate languages,” Dr Beer said.

“The updated compliance code includes revised definitions and terminology to reflect current approaches, and renewed information about best practices in translation and interpreting services,” she said.

“Duty holders are also provided with new examples of cultural barriers that may impact effective communication in workplaces, and further clarity on the role and the limitations of employees acting as multilingual facilitators.”

Dr Beer said an ongoing health and safety dialogue accessible to all workers was essential to maintaining a safe workplace.

“Communicating health and safety information is central to reducing the risk of workplace injury and illness,” the Executive Director said.

“Employers must ensure their workers receive and understand health and safety information, are able to raise and discuss issues, and are properly trained in safe work practices.”

She said the updated Code provided practical guidance and advice to employers on duties in culturally and linguistically diverse workplaces, how to understand and plan for workforce information needs, and techniques for communicating health and safety across languages.

“While not mandatory, employers that comply with the compliance code will be considered to have complied with their duties and obligations under the OHS Act and OHS Regulations,” Dr Beer said.

WorkSafe’s 29-page Compliance Code can be accessed at this PS News link.

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