Managing construction health and safety: migrant workers and communicating safety messages

2011-12-19T13:33:04Z (GMT) by Phil Bust Alistair Gibb Sarah Pink
The economic prosperity of individual countries around the world has fuelled the transportation of migrant workers for centuries. The phenomenon of globalisation and with it cheaper and quicker forms of international travel has transformed the nature of migrant worker involvement in construction projects. For example, Irish ‘navvies’ have traditionally made up a large percentage of the UK construction workforce. However, political changes in the neighbouring Republic of Ireland leading to an economic boom have kept native workers at home. This gap in the UK workforce has coincided with an expansion of the European Union and there has been an influx of Polish, Lithuanian and other A8 ascension countries’ nationals. The change, over a relatively short period of time, less than 10 years, has put pressure on the management of health and safety at a time when the UK construction industry was progressing from relative successes in tackling safety issues to dealing with the health of construction workers. The challenge of converting the health and safety systems to accommodate a multi national/ cultural workforce is being addressed using initiatives such as, translation of health and safety materials, use of interpreters and an increased use of visual methods for communicating health and safety messages. There is little scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of these initiatives and investigations into these methods and the affects of the migrant workforce on health and safety are proposed.