Learning from language problem related accident information in the process industry: A literature study

P. Lindhout*, J. C. Kingston-Howlett, G. Reniers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Misunderstandings due to language problems are emerging as an underlying causal factor in a wide variety of occupational accidents. Implicated in this are language proficiency and literacy, but also readability of instructions. Coupled to these is the fact that the global workforce holds more migrant workers than ever before, and there are a growing number of multi-lingual shop floor environments, especially in the transportation and health care sectors. The term ‘language problem related accident’ (LPRA) is proposed here. This article reviews LPRA trends in industry, especially in the process industry and construction industry. Proposals are made about how to better manage the safety risks associated with LPRAs. LPRA information was gathered via a literature survey using search-terms related to LPRAs. This search included the governmental resources in Europe, the USA, Australia, several Far East countries, and Africa. Both the information found and the difficulties encountered while gathering this information were analysed and validated by interviews with experts. Causal information about LPRAs is partial at best: 21 access difficulties are identified. Their resolution will create opportunities for further safety improvement. The main proposals made here relate to public information systems, company safety management, regulatory inspections, accident investigation activities and safety science research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-152
Number of pages13
JournalProcess Safety and Environmental Protection
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Illiteracy
  • Language problems
  • Multi-lingual shop floor
  • Occupational accident
  • Readability


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