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English lessons made Chunnel link site safer


Sir, I would like to support your correspondent A Cooper's prize-winning letter 'Language barrier can be solved by site translators' (Letters, April 29).

Support for foreign site workers over and above that of an interpreter has been tried out by Skanska and Havering College on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link contract at Stratford Station, where Eastern European and Asian nationals were taught English by Havering College staff for four hours a week.Students gave up two hours of their own time and were supported by Skanska for the other two hours.

The course proved highly successful. It was delivered on-site in one of the Portakabins and started early in morning - and I do mean early.This particular course included 'construction English'.One of the issues on the site was that, when the interpreter wished to take a break, all the non-English speakers also had to.

It is also possible to arrange for site tests to be conducted in languages other than English, which is one way for non-English speaking construction workers to demonstrate health and safety awareness for the purpose of CSCS-carding.

I have now changed companies and work around central London, where the number of construction workers who do not have English as their first language has noticeably increased.

So perhaps the way ahead is for the more forward-thinking partnerships like the Skanska-Havering College one to continue, maybe with Government funding to make them cost-neutral to employers.

Joe Pojunas Group labour manager RTT Group plc Wallington Surrey