Australia's aged population is growing, creating pressures on staffing in aged care services. Increasingly, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) workers are filling the workforce void. Due to language and cultural differences, and being new workers, CALD workers may experience difficulties in communication, increasing their risk of work-related injury and illness. However, our understanding of how CALD workers navigate health and safety as a work practice is limited. This study sought to reveal how CALD workers understand and communicate regarding their health and safety at work, and to identify mechanisms by which communication could be enhanced to benefit safety.We observed work practices over 57 shifts, examined documentation, and interviewed 51 workers and 22 residents in residential aged care. Field notes and interview data were transcribed, inductively coded and thematically analyzed to reveal themes related to communicating about work health and safety (WHS).The findings reveal that health and safety is a relational practice reliant on interactions between participants at the person-task-organization interface. Cultural identity also significantly affected CALD workers' participation in health and safety communication. Particular attention needs to be given to overcoming reticence which limits effective communication between workers during daily work. Cultural as well as linguistic differences impact on the communication and participation of CALD workers in health and safety at work. Reticence and different practices for showing respect may impede CALD workers active participation. Solutions involve attention to training, job and management systems design with a focus on participation and inter-cultural awareness.
- Aged care
- Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD)