Language and safety in the Elephant & Castle redevelopment
Plans were recently announced that the planning application for a £2bn redevelopment of Elephant & Castle has been approved by London mayor Sadiq Khan.
The firm Mace is acting as construction adviser for the scheme, which will form the base of the wider Elephant and Castle housing estate regeneration being delivered by LendLease.
Communicating the project
The project is wide-reaching and will involve lots of liaising between residents, businesses and traders involved directly in the project, or impacted by the work itself and its hoped-for regeneration results.
And so, to this particular regeneration project. Our company deals with a lot of health and safety related projects, and we are heavily invested in how language and translations (or the lack of) can impact on workers’ engagement levels and therefore their safety.
What languages are involved?
At the time of the 2011 census, in this area of London, 49% of the residents recorded were born outside of the UK, which is significantly higher than the English average of 16.5%. It is our hope that the councils and companies involved have communication policies in place, to ensure that all parties understand, in their first language, what is going to happen in their community.
Translate relevant documents to ensure safety
Arguably more importantly, the authorities and companies need to consider what policies and procedures are in place to ensure that the workers involved in the demolition and building projects fully understand their roles and their safety obligations, so that this project remains accident-free. Hopefully, they understand that this means providing translations and interpreters for workers, so that they are fully involved in and understand their day-to-day activities. As we have commented elsewhere, workers’ engagement with health and safety is much higher if they receive instructions in their own language.
On their website, Mace states that they work across several countries, “ensuring they achieve a standardisation of process and service throughout their entire European operations.” Presumably this includes providing documents, training and communication in their workers’ and clients’ native languages.