Overseas workers are valued in the UK construction industry, providing valuable skills. Many are experienced trades people and some enter the workforce through the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme (now closed for new applicants),
Research published as part of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Inquiry into the Underlying Causes of Accidents in Construction revealed that HSE Inspectors repeatedly identify several factors making foreign or migrant workers potentially at greater risk than British born workers. These were:
- Language skills
- Inexperience or lack of understanding of UK Health and Safety standards
- Cultural differences
Workers with limited English language skills can obtain a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card. The Construction Skills (touchscreen) health safety and environment test can be taken in a variety of languages or with the help of an interpreter. This test is a robust and independent assurance of basic health and safety knowledge.
Construction Skills, the Sector Skills Council for the construction industry, has developed web-based teaching materials to help overseas workers. It also provides construction employers with information and support tools to help ensure that any overseas workers they employ are properly qualified and competent.
Employers in construction are using multi lingual supervisors, and translating instructions and guidance into the first language for their workers. Inductions, tool box talks and training materials are becoming available in a range of languages.