Training materials are particularly important documents because they serve as the foundation for performing all daily tasks within the workplace. When staff is well trained, the business runs smoothly and employees’ performance is an added value to the company’s bottom line.

When working with a bilingual or multilingual workforce, it is not uncommon for simple instructions and ideas to get lost in translation. Whether you run an oil refinery that uses substantial amounts of heavy machinery or an IT business that follows strict electronic security protocols, your training materials are important documents that should be made readily available to employees.

Some of the reasons that require the availability of translated instructions are:

The Increase in Migrant Labor Force

While immigration from Mexico has leveled off in recent years, migrants from South America and Asian nations has increased. As the nation continues to trends towards becoming more multicultural, the need to translate operational information for the migrant labor force will only increase.

Businesses hire migrant workers for a variety of reasons, but regardless of your business’s staffing needs, there is a trending possibility that employees will be hired who have learned English as a second language.

Diversity of the Migrant Labor Force

Language diversity in the United States is rapidly increasing. We can notice this by listening to the radio in Spanish or looking at a street sign written in Chinese. There is not a consistent and effective strategy in which to address this change, thus a best practice policy should be centered on the expectation of such a scenario.

Consider this: if your TV’s instruction manual comes in eight languages, would you want your heavy machinery operational manuals or safety protocols to be written in only one language?

Legal Liability and Workplace Safety

In situations where there is no legal requirement to provide the translated of instruction materials, doing so is a strategic step in which to take preventative measures from potential workers’ compensation liability. In general, most workplace accidents are preventable with proper employee training. It is unfortunate when injuries occur, in particular, when employees did not have a clear understanding of the training instructions due to a language barrier.

Another level of legal responsibility is in governmental compliance. While employees are at risk when they do not clearly understand the workplace instructions, so are businesses when employees are not capable of performing the required tasks, due to a language barrier, that is mandated by governmental inspectors.

Compliance officers require strict adherence to legal regulations, and a single mistranslated word could impact your company’s compliance standing.

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