A new guidance document outlining the health and safety issues of working in a multicultural environment has been published to help employers manage cultural diversity in the workplace.
Compiled by the Northwest Food Alliance and the Health and Safety Executive, the document outlines procedures and gives practical examples of what employers should do to ensure their legal and moral obligations are met when it comes to the instruction and training of mixed ethnolinguistic groups.
Pat Foreman, chief executive of the Northwest Food Alliance, says: "The food industry now has an increasingly multicultural workforce, which requires new approaches to key issues such as health and safety to ensure effective communication, not only in supervision and training but also to allow workers to voice any concerns they may have."
Providing appropriate information, instruction, training and supervision makes good business sense, states the document, while a significant reduction in the number of accidents is possible if good practice is adopted. Managing these issues can also reduce employers' liability insurance premiums and improve production efficiency, productivity and profitability.
The guidance focuses on managing culture and diversity; effective recruitment; using risk assessment techniques; induction and training; translation; and supervision.
It tackles issues such as overcoming language barriers and differences in religious beliefs, as well as the legal aspects of recruitment, including using employment agencies and avoiding discrimination. Useful tips on the delivery of training are offered, such as using buddy systems, translators and bilingual workers.
The role of the supervisor in ensuring multicultural issues are correctly addressed is an important one and the document sets out some key principles to follow. These include taking into account some behavioural differences, such as the significance of eye contact or the acceptability of touching in different cultures.
The document, which also offers links to other useful websites and guides, can be downloaded free of charge from http://www.nwfoodalliance.co.uk