"Common sense tells us that currently the most effective way of ensuring and testing retained health and safety knowledge in workers that speak little or no English is to allow them to take the test with the questions being read out in translated voice-over," said ConstructionSkills head of health, safety and environment Kevin Fear.
"There is a risk that a worker who cannot speak or read English would be at increased risk on site because of poor communication and there is a need for research and the development of tools to help employers assess the safety critical communication skills of migrant workers and to help managers communicate safety critical instructions."
ConstructionSkills is working in partnership with the Health & Safety Executive to develop methods of ensuring that when a worker with poor English skills is on site, he or she has had successful basic health and safety training.
The CSCS card scheme requires holders to sit a multiple choice health and safety test every three to five years depending on the card type. The card is then widely accepted as proof of that person's competence in health and safety. This helps employers comply with CDM regulations, which require that all workers be safe and competent.
However industry critics have said that there is a need for site workers to understand basic English so they can understand tool box talks and instructions if an emergency did arise.
www.constructionmigrantworkers.co.uk offers employers guidance.