Training means helping people to learn how to do something, telling people what they should or should not do, or simply giving them information. Training isn't just about formal classroom courses. Training helps people acquire the skills, knowledge and attitudes to make them competent in the health and safety aspects of their work. It includes formal off the-job training, instruction to individuals and groups, and on-the-job coaching and counseling.
Training is, however, only one way of ensuring satisfactory health and safety performance. It is also of benefit to integrate health and safety requirements into job specifications.
It is generally accepted that training employees in health and safety matters will generate the following benefits:
- Assisting employees to identify hazards and adopt safe and healthy working practices;
- Helping to avoid the pain, anguish and financial costs that accidents and ill health cause;
- Fostering a positive culture of health and safety, in which unsafe and unhealthy working is not tolerated;
- Enabling employees to spot ways to improve health and safety management;
- Enabling employers to meet legal duties to protect the health and safety employees and others.
It is also worthy of note that the law places duties on employers to provide effective training for the workforce; i.e.:
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
The Act requires duty holders to provide whatever information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of their employees.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations,
The Regulations define situations where health and safety training is particularly important, e.g. when people start work, on exposure to new or increased risks and where existing skills may need updating.
When debating the benefits of a pro-active approach to health and safety training against the time, money and resource expenditure; employers would do well to consider the following points outlined in the Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) accompanying the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations; namely:
- When allocating work to employees, employers should ensure that the demands of the job do not exceed the employees' ability to carry out the work without risk to themselves or others.
- Employers should take account of the employees' capabilities and the level of their training, knowledge and experience.
- Managers and to some extent supervisors should be aware of relevant legislation and be competent to manage health and safety effectively.
- Employers should review their employees' capabilities to carry out their work, as necessary; and if additional training, including refresher training, is needed, it should be provided.
In summary the over-arching benefits of providing effective to training directors, managers and employees are:
- Reduced costs
- Reduced risks
- Lower employee absence and turnover rates
- Fewer accidents
- Lessened threat of legal action
- Improved standing among suppliers and partners
- Better reputation for corporate responsibility among investors, customers and communities
- Increased productivity, because employees are healthier, happier and better motivated.
This article was written by Hodgins Smith Consulting Ltd. Hodgins Smith operate a UK Health and Safety Consultancy business across the UK and Scotland.