SPEAKING THE SAME LANGUAGE ON WORKPLACE HEALTH AND SAFETY

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A news advertorial by Catie Norman

As a general rule, Australian workplaces are safer than ever before. Injuries and fatalities are decreasing. This is an achievement of which we should all be proud.

But not everyone is reaping the benefits of increased regulation and training. Workers who speak little or no English remain especially vulnerable to accidents.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, they often perform the most labour intensive and dangerous roles. Secondly, instructions regarding their safety can get lost in translation.

At Shine Lawyers, we have represented countless non-English speakers who suffered life-changing injuries at work.

I’ve spoken to migrants who have lost limbs while operating heavy machinery without adequate supervision and training.

Others have been left severely injured by being required to engage in repetitive physical tasks like heavy lifting without appropriate safety measures being in place.

In many cases, their employers simply did not take the time to ensure workplace safety requirements were explained to them in their native language.

The cost of compensating an employee who hurts themselves at work can run into the hundreds of thousands – far more than the price of translating instructions for ethnically diverse staff.

Physical injuries can also take a huge mental toll. People take pride in their work.

When their careers are cut short or they are forced to go months without income, they risk falling into depression or becoming overwhelmed with anxiety.

In recent years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of workers reporting psychological injuries.

According to recent research undertaken by Safe Work Australia, employees who sustain a psychological injury tend to be off work three times longer than those with a physical injury.

This not only impacts the staff member in question but the business, too. Workplaces with emotionally negative work conditions accrue 43 percent more sick days per month than those with comparatively positive work conditions.

Far from being a nuisance or inconvenience, improving workplace health and safety can actually be good for the bottom line. October is National Safe Work Month, a time to commit to building safe and healthy workplaces for all Australians. Employees should feel empowered to raise the alarm when they see dangerous practices that could lead to an accident. If you have been injured at work, you should seek legal advice as you may be entitled to compensation.

Catie Norman is the Sunshine Branch Manager at Shine Lawyers. Contact Shine Lawyers to schedule afree no-obligation consultation on1800 860 461.

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