Project managers trained the workers to follow stringent safety rules to avoid accidents. “When you have more than 15,000 people working for you on a project, that is over 150,000 fingers potentially at risk,” said Sipke Mennes, senior Health Safety and Environment advisor. “We had to take care of all of them.”
Communicating across cultures
Instilling safety procedures was all the more challenging because the workers spoke at least seven different languages. To overcome language barriers, project leaders used novel ways to get the message across, such as hand-drawn images to show potential safety incidents at daily team meetings.
“We gave out safety leaflets ourselves,” said Sipke. “Here the workers knew the managers.”
He believes promoting safety is about relating to the workers. A theatre production used music and mime to tell the story of a migrant worker staying safe to return to his family. “Weeks afterwards people were still talking about it,” said Sipke. “They replayed parts, showing the message had hit home.”
All over the construction site posters of Singa the lion, a mascot developed to suit different cultures, reminded staff of safety rules.