Growing Concern in UK About Low Literacy

The Health and Safety Executive highlighted recent studies that indicate 720,000 Britons are studying to obtain literacy qualifications. In the United States, some researchers believe low literacy explains the higher workplace casualty rate of Hispanic workers.

Noting that the ability to read and understand health and safety guidance for workplaces may depend on the reader's literacy level, Britain's Health and Safety Executive has highlighted recent studies that indicate 720,000 Britons are studying to obtain literacy qualifications. In the United States, some researchers believe low literacy explains the higher workplace casualty rate of Hispanic workers.

HSE said the 2003 Skills for Life survey by the Department for Education and Skills (since renamed) found that in England, 16 percent of those ages 16 to 65 had literacy skills of Entry Level 3, the level expected of an 11-year-old, or worse.

UNISON, Britain's largest biggest public-sector union with more than 1.3 million members, has identified low literacy as a fundamental safety and health concern. UNISON reported Aug. 27 that around 3.5 million Britons of working age have serious literacy or language problems.

HSE linked its news release to several current literacy initiatives. The agency, which is the equivalent of OSHA in the United States, says employers must ensure health and safety issues are explained to employees appropriately.

comments powered by Disqus

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - June 2019

    June 2019

    Featuring:

    • ASSP SAFETY 2019 PREVIEW
      New Orleans Networking
    • NATION SAFETY MONTH
      Heed These Summer Safety Tips
    • TRAINING
      Education, Skill Development, and Behavior Change
    • SAFETY MANAGEMENT
      What Good Looks Like
    View This Issue