Communicating OHS across languages: Vic updates compliance code


Wednesday, 03 August, 2022

Communicating OHS across languages: Vic updates compliance code

WorkSafe Victoria has updated the Communicating Occupational Health and Safety Across Languages Compliance Code, to help employers effectively communicate health and safety messages in workplaces where multiple languages are spoken. The compliance code applies to workplaces where the use of languages other than English is required for 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.

The compliance code provides practical guidance and advice on the duties for employers in culturally and linguistically diverse workplaces; it also details how to understand and plan for workforce information needs, including how to build a language profile by identifying language groups within their workforce. The code also provides techniques for communicating health and safety across languages, along with language support for employees, such as using translators, interpreters and multilingual employees. It outlines effective ways to provide information, instruction and training in culturally and linguistically diverse workplaces.

The updated compliance code includes revised definitions and terminology to reflect current approaches, and renewed information about best practices in translation and interpreting services. Duty holders are also provided with new examples of cultural barriers that may impact effective communication in workplaces. The updated compliance code also provides clarity on the role and the limitations of employees acting as multilingual facilitators. While not mandatory, employers that comply with the code will be considered to have complied with their duties and obligations under the OHS Act and OHS Regulations.

Dr Narelle Beer, Executive Director (Health and Safety) of WorkSafe Victoria, said an ongoing health and safety dialogue accessible to all workers is essential to maintaining a safe workplace. “Communicating health and safety information is central to reducing the risk of workplace injury and illness. 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,” said Beer.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/pornchai

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