Simplification and standardisation seen as answer to communicating safety issues to foreign workers.
The government is to improve the safety of foreign workers by introducing standardised signage on construction sites.

The move will be recommended in a report sponsored by the DTI that is currently being drawn up by the Languages National Training Organisation.

The DTI met industry officials this week to discuss plans for an official launch of the report in the autumn.

An industry insider said the plan was to be implemented by the Construction Industry Training Board, and that it was likely the Health and Safety Executive could play a role.

The insider said: "The idea is to have the same sign on all sites, with very clear symbols and simple plain English so that it is easily understood by non-English-speaking workers."

He said it would mean foreign workers could become familiar with the signs on different jobs and then be able to recognise the safety warnings and general instructions on any site.

The insider added that the report could recommend funding for standardised English courses designed for foreign workers.

The Languages National Training Organisation report is based on the findings of an audit into workers' languages and intercultural relations in the construction industry.

As part of the audit's recommendations, guidance for contractors, covering best-practice intercultural skills on sites, is to be produced in the form of a checklist.

The audit, which was supported by the Sector Skills Development Agency and the Construction Confederation, assessed the level of communication between UK and foreign workers on landmark projects. Those surveyed included workers on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, Fitzpatrick staff at the Trafalgar Square refurbishment, Skanska staff at the Swiss Re tower and Bovis staff at BBC White City.

An initial draft of the recommendations will be distributed to trade unions.