Translating Safety in the Oil & Gas Industry

Imagine you’re standing in front of 100 new employees from your oil and gas extraction workforce, explaining essential safety protocols. They all have different backgrounds, levels of experience—and speak different languages. In fact, 10 of them can’t fully understand the crucial safety information you’re presenting, because English isn’t their first language, and they’re not fluent. Once you finish the orientation, you send your new workers off to the job site, ready to get started.

You would never consider that scenario acceptable safety training, especially when your employees need to be aware of the potential hazards on job sites. However, as demographics shift and diversity increases, these kinds of scenarios are becoming more common all the time. Many employees with limited English proficiency are missing out on crucial safety training, and potentially putting themselves and others at risk. According to the United States Department of Labor, 102,000 people worked in oil and gas extraction, the Hispanic and Asian workforce made up 16.8% of the workforce overall in 2016. That number is higher in areas with large immigrant populations. So what does this mean for safety in the oil and gas industry?

Overall, it highlights the need for more comprehensive translation of safety materials, to ensure that all employees receive the same training. Here are some of the materials that can be translated to give everyone equal access to crucial safety information.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

Safety data sheets are required by law, but they aren’t always easy to understand, even for people who speak English natively. The number of hazardous chemicals present in the workplace can be significant, and all employees in the oil & gas industry should know what the protocols are for minimizing risk around these chemicals. SDSs are full of jargon, which can make reading them very overwhelming for people who have only basic English, even if they know enough to get by in everyday situations. A translated version of safety data sheets can help prevent confusion, misunderstandings, and even accidents.

Employee Videos

Video is a great medium for training, and it’s a great supplement to written materials and on-the-job training. Unfortunately, when videos are only available in English, many workers don’t get the full value out of these training videos. They may see demonstrations in the video, but don’t get the supplemental text that helps explain these demonstrations. When it comes to translating videos, the advantage is that subtitling can be used to make the same video accessible to English speakers and one other language simultaneously so the training group doesn’t have to be split.

Employee Handbooks

Every company should ensure that the employee handbook is available to employees in a language they fully understand. That way, if there are questions, many of the answers are available on demand. Having a fully translated handbook also helps make all employees feel secure, included, and confident in their new position.

Ensuring Quality Translations

Safety translations are crucial, but they only work when they’re done by a translator who has the industry knowledge to ensure that the finished product is detailed, accurate, and high-quality. If you need to revamp your safety materials to ensure all your workers get the same level of training, a translation service is your best option for achieving great results.

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