Staff at the Regina Public Library serve newcomers to Canada every day. During those interactions, staff noticed that many of their clients have been working jobs that carry a high risk of workplace injury.
“We have identified a need to offer workplace safety programs,” said the library’s business service specialist, Tim Xie.
Part of the library’s mandate is to contribute to the prosperity of the community. Staff were already creating programs to train people in business and financial literacy. Now a workplace safety course is being offered for people who are studying English as a second language.
“The program is designed specifically for newcomers,” said Xie. “It’s taught using simple language along with visual aids and activities.”
Barriers to understanding
Xie says the workshops, which have been running twice a month since May, have been well-attended. The course can accommodate up to 15 people in each session and is usually held over the noon hour at the library’s Central branch.
Registration can be accessed at the library’s website.
Attendees learn to identify potential workplace hazards like slippery floors, chemicals used in cleaning and exposure to loud noise.
They also learn acceptable workplace practices for Saskatchewan, which may be different from their country of origin.
Language poses a challenge to understanding even the more basic concepts of workplace safety.
“The most challenging part is the language level of our attendees,” said Xie.
“We have to use a lot of activities and visual aids, graphics, to help people understand the meaning and the concepts.”
Library staff even provide body maps to the attendees so they can better understand where injury can occur on the body,and how to report those injuries.