Lack of Translation Leads to Serious Health & Safety Breach

A worker at a Shropshire concrete firm has been severely injured due to a lack of translation of health and safety warnings into his native language.

Tomasz Kosmacz, 38, suffered serious leg injuries after being hit by a forklift truck when removing excess concrete from moulds in the Telford factory of Elite Precast Concrete. He was working very close to the forklift when the incident occurred and he has sustained serious foot injuries including several foot fractures, a broken ankle which requires four screws and a damaged knee. He has had to have two operations and is still unable to work ever since the incident occurred in July of 2011.

The incident was extremely painful and he still suffers from pain in his knee and foot. Kosmacz had been performing the job incorrectly, as he was supposed to have placed the bucket on a pallet rather than directly on the forklift which was against health and safety regulations. There were written instructions informing workers of this at the factory, but they were in English and had not been translated into Polish. Kosmacz spoke very little English so he was not aware of the risk.

Despite the fact that the factory employed many migrant workers from Poland, none of the written safety warnings had been translated for their benefit. The company was found guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 and was fined £10,000 as well as costs of £2,897 for their negligence resulting in the serious injury to their employee. Mr. Kosmacz had been working in the same way for several weeks, which made it clear that an accident of this sort was inevitable and should have been prevented long before.

According to a spokesperson for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the incident was completely preventable. The safety instructions should have been printed in Polish as well as English as the company were aware that they employed workers who did not speak English. The company lacked the arrangements to ensure that their migrant workers could enjoy the same level of safety as their English employees.

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