Communicating health and safety on a multinational construction project: challenges and strategies

Oswald, David and Wade, Faye and Sherratt, Fred and Smith, Simon (2019) Communicating health and safety on a multinational construction project: challenges and strategies. Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, 145 (4). ISSN 1943-7862

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The health and safety (H&S) of workers is a critical project management goal in construction. As globalisation and migrant movement increases, construction projects are becoming more nationally diverse. Amongst multinational workforces, language barriers present an obvious but largely unresolved H&S communication challenge, with current strategies in use yet to be assessed. On a large construction project in the United Kingdom, H&S communication strategies were explored through an ethnographic approach. This paper contributes by revealing the impracticalities of using employees as interpreters in workgroups of six or more; the limitations of technologies in a dynamic construction site environment, and highlights the unresolved challenge of translating safety videos in multiple languages. Challenges arose including translators refusing to translate, as they were not receiving extra financial benefits and it was not recognised as part of their workload; and translators being given favourable treatment during disciplinary processes as they were crucial to the continued operation of the site team. This reveals the complexities involved in implementing effective H&S communication strategies on international and multinational projects, which have previously remained largely ignored.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Communication, Ethnography, Multinational, Migrant Workers, Safety
Faculty: Faculty of Science & Engineering
Depositing User: Fred Sherratt
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2018 12:41
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 18:55

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