Translated Foundation training ensuring workers new to NZ construction are working safely

01 Sep 2022

Ohakea Filipino Class Photo.jpg

Caption: Site Safe's Tony Greeve and Meia Lopez with Foundation Passport learners from the Ohakea project. 

More foreign workers are expected to arrive on New Zealand shores as global travel restrictions ease.

It is likely the construction industry, troubled by a tight labour market, will be eager to bolster its workforce with these workers.

But as more people join who may be unfamiliar with how the sector operates in New Zealand, it is important they are taught how to manage their on-site health and safety responsibilities.

That’s where Site Safe’s training courses such as our Foundation Passport - Building Construction and Civil training courses play a critical role in achieving this.

They introduce learners to vital topics such as how to keep themselves healthy and safe, how to identify hazards and risks and apply the appropriate controls, understanding their legal responsibilities and promoting good mental health.

Our team of safety experts can provide these courses translated into several languages, ensuring non-English speaking learners can grasp a stronger understanding of the health and safety concepts.  

Recently, Site Safe Safety Advisor Tony Greeve and Learning Developer Meia Lopez put this into practice, offering a translated Foundation Passport training for a group of Filipino workers at Ohakea Air Base.

The multimillion-dollar Te Whare Toroa infrastructure project, just northwest of Palmerston North, is a colossal task.

Hawkins and Fulton Hogan - the project’s main contractors - and their 25 subcontractors have an average of 250 workers on site each day, according to a recent Hawkins update.

This means a substantial amount of workers need to be trained in how to safely handle themselves on-site.

Meia said the majority of the workers who attended the session had several years of construction experience in the Middle East, Asia and the Philippines.

But despite having that experience, she said that some may not have been familiar with the rules and how construction operates in New Zealand.

“Our industry has a multi-cultural workforce and it is vital that we make learning accessible to them.

“Delivering the course in Tagalog ensures that we get the message across clearly. It also puts these workers at ease, making them more likely to be engaged, open to asking questions, and responding to questions in class - it's a win-win situation.”

Tony said the pair purposefully extended the time for the delivery of the course material to allow for the translation to take place and for more discussion if required. 

“We also delivered the course on either side of the lunch break so we could approach the delivery from a more holistic approach and take the time to mix with the guys over a meal.

“The employer, in this case, SMT Construction, was looking at opportunities to enhance the team building component, so this fitted in well.”

Mirko Battelli, the site foreman for SMT Building on the Ohakea project, said the translated course had improved his team’s morale and Tony and Meia had made a concerted effort to include the Filipino workers.

He said by having his team work as a group produced more engagement and better communication.  

SMT Building Operations Manager Rob Scrimgeour said he was thankful for Site Safe’s “clear communications up to and during the course”.

“We understand there are a lot of moving parts, but this was a great experience for all involved and we will definitely be looking to use this option in future.”

You can learn more about our Foundation Passport courses or any other training courses, including our translated offerings here.