Case Study  Managing The Language Barrier On Site

Case study: Managing the language barrier on-site

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Case study: Managing the language barrier on-site

  • Publish Date: Posted 14 days ago
  • Author: Marketing Team

When a client faced a language barrier challenge on a Cheshire construction site that is building a new energy from waste plant, they collaborated with our Language Solutions business who provided much welcomed interpreting support.

Our Heysham team regularly provide additional support services to their clients through their strategic purchasing service, which can include hire of the mechanical equipment or purchase of parts needed to complete a programme of work or organising travel and accommodation requirements for contractors.

Understanding the challenge

A pipework subcontractor from Slovakia was scheduled to start work on the project and were looking to deploy their specialist team to undertake the work. Each of them were Slovakian nationals who did not speak English, which would cause several potential complications working on-site – including communication and health and safety concerns.

Recruiting Slovakian interpreters

The NRL team proposed the recruitment of two translators, who were fluent in Slovakian and could work with the managers, team of workers and site representatives to interpret verbal and written communication. Working on rotation, the translators would provide cover over a 5 day working week.

With this identified as a good solution to address the language barrier on the engineering project, the Heysham team reached out to their colleagues at NRL Language Solutions, for help identifying qualified interpreters who would be able to support the 12+ month contract. Together they were able to recruit two linguists who lived locally, both of whom were interested in the scope of the interpreting work required.

Delivering engineering interpreting services

Everything that happened on site that was relevant to the Slovakian workers’ role on the project needed translation. This included site documentation and safety guidance, as well as general communications and site signage.

At the start of each shift a pre-job briefing took place, and the interpreter carefully provided verbal translation to ensure everyone understood what was required of them and anything specific they needed to be aware of. Individual conversations were also interpreted, including any general direction and tasks that were allocated throughout each shift.

To facilitate effective communication between the subcontractor and contractor on the project, the interpreter also joined project meetings to ensure everyone could follow the conversation.

Prioritising safety on-site

Safety remained the primary focus, with the interpreter maintaining a consistent presence on-site with the workers to proactively manage communication throughout each shift.

The team of interpreters also provided crucial verbal translation during safety training sessions, where several hazards were set up and workers were asked to inspect the scene and note down what the errors. Interpreting exercises such as these provided added reassurance that the language barrier was being efficiently managed.

Managing multiple languages on-site

The result, a solution that allowed the Slovakian subcontractor to engage the specialist skills they needed to deliver the pipework requirements on the energy from waste plant construction project, without a language barrier causing any potential problems on-site.

NRL’s Heysham Branch Director Jack Gannon reflects on the project:

“When we heard about the challenge the subcontractor faced, we immediately knew we had a workable solution because it’s a service that we’ve tried and tested on engineering projects.

It’s a real advantage for our clients that we have a translation and interpreting business within the NRL Group, as we’re able to mobilise linguists onto projects quickly.

The team of translators were a huge asset to the safe and effective delivery of the pipework stage of the project, and we’re delighted to have been able to assist our client with this specialist interpreting support.”

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