Bradley Hartmann is El Presidente of Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a Spanish language training firm focused exclusively on the construcción industry. Hartmann has been successful improving Safety, Productivity and Profitability by speaking Spanish on the jobsite. Hartmann lived in Guadalajara, México during his undergraduate studies and later earned his MBA. Hartmann also teaches Construction Spanish at Purdue University’s Building Construction Management Program. He has authored 2 books - Spanish Twins: Start Speaking Spanish on the Construction Site with Words You Already Know and Safety Spanish: Simple Spanish Skills for Solving Safety Problems. Hartmann would love to hear your thoughts digitally at email@example.com or verbally at 630.234.7321.
Do you know what the Spanish term for Profitability is?
I love this term because the word RENT leaps out at you.
RENTABILIDAD = Profitability
Up to 2006 or so, homebuilding was like managing the Chicago Cubs. Sure, you could lose money doing it, but you’d really have to try.
Since then, the construction industry has been made aware its profits are rented - not owned.
The profits were so good for so long we thought we owned them. But as the Spanish term Rentabilidad indicates, profits are rented. Annually.
Profits are not guaranteed.
You gotta fight for them every year.
And the risks undermining profits must be identified and mitigated.
Lawsuits from injuries pose one of the largest threats to your Rentabilidad. The hard costs are sobering enough (insurance, workers comp, legal fees, settlements, etc.), but the soft costs - or indirect costs - are often more damaging to the bottom line.
Let’s examine your odds. One group of workers on your jobs are disproportionately more likely to be injured or killed - Hispanics.
If we understand this, yet our Safety Program is in English, well… that’s not a very good way to mitigate the risk. The majority of Hispanics prefer Spanish.
So, don’t over-think it.
“But hold on,” you say, “Why is it my job to invest money in Spanish? Why don’t they learn English?”
The best reason to invest in Safety Spanish is this: your Rentabilidad. Most firms don’t make the investment in training Hispanics on Safety in a language they understand… and that’s why the national statistics indicate Hispanics are nearly 2x as likely to be injured or killed.
Here are 3.5 Steps you can take to minimize the risk of injury on the jobsite.
1. Translate your Safety Manual into Spanish.
Hispanics are disproportionately more likely to die on your job compared to other ethnicities. Hispanic construction workers overwhelmingly prefer Spanish.
So get your Safety manual in Spanish. Keep the concepts simple and use pictures.
2. Create a Safety Orientation video in Spanish.
Still using a tired Power Point presentation here? C’mon… it’s almost 2013. Keep it under 15 minutes and make it mandatory. Include some humor to keep the audience awake. Again - keep the concepts simple and use images. Smartphones and iPADs make sharing videos easier than ever.
3. Say “Cuidado” everyday.
Cuidado (kwee-DAH-doh) means Careful. Injuries and deaths are rarely caused by new and exciting things on the job. It’s the routine actions that cause the most injuries. For example, stairs and ladders account for 25,000 reportable injuries each year. So help the Hispanics on the job by saying Cuidado. Little reminders help.
3.5. Pick up the phone...
Call your insurance provider and make sure the underwriters on your policy know the additional steps you are taking to save you both money.
When it comes to Safety on the job - your Rentabilidad depends on your ability to reach every worker, not just the English-speakers.