An effective health and safety policy requires more than just creating a written policy—it requires proper training, implementation and performance from everyone in the workplace. As an owner or manager, you must ensure that all employees know about the materials and equipment they work with, known hazards and how to control those hazards.
Employers are required by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 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 expands on this by identifying certain situations where health and safety training should be applied. Some specific instances include training for new employees, change in work equipment or job functions, a new system of work, the introduction of new technology or when the need for a refresher course arises. Employers must provide the training during working hours at no cost to the employee. Be sure to comply with all relevant specific training regulations as well, such as the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations.
How to Provide the Training
The HSE has created a five-step approach to help employers provide training:
- Decide what training your organisation needs
- Determine the skills and knowledge needed for your employees to work safely and compare this with your employee’s current skills and knowledge.
- Review risk assessments and consult employees.
- Decide your training priorities
- Comply with all relevant specific training regulations (eg First-Aid Regulations, Asbestos Regulations).
- Focus training on tasks that may result in serious harm and those that benefit the largest number of employees first.
- Top priority should also be given to new employees and employees changing jobs.
- Choose your training methods and resources
- If no one in your employ has the knowledge, experience and skills to competently train your employees, you must enlist external help.
- Consider trade associations, private training organisations, consultants and UK websites such as HSE.
- Deliver the training
- Use a variety of training methods and make sure employees can easily understand the information.
- Ensure the trainer has the resources, venue and preparation time to give a successful training session.
- Check that the training has worked
- Are your employees practising skills learned at the training? Do they understand what is required of them?
- What type of feedback are you getting from managers and employees?
- Is further training needed? What improvements can be made to the training?
- Has there been an improvement in your organisation’s health and safety performance?
Additional Actions to Consider
- Make sure you have trained your employees on every potential hazard that they could be exposed to and how to protect themselves against those hazards. Then, verify that they really understand what you taught them.
- Each employee needs to know the following:
- No employee is expected to undertake a job until he or she has received instructions on how to do so properly and is authorised to perform that job.
- No employee should undertake a job that appears unsafe.
- Pay particular attention to your new employees and to employees who are moving to new roles within the organisation. Since they are learning new operations, they are more likely to get hurt.
- Train your supervisors to understand all the hazards faced by the employees and how to reinforce training with quick reminders and refreshers, or with disciplinary action, if necessary.
- Make sure that your top management understands their safety and health responsibilities and how to hold subordinate supervisory employees accountable for their actions.
- Keep training records so you can identify when refresher training may be needed.
- You may be able to combine health and safety training with other training sessions, depending upon the types of hazards present in your workplace.
For more detailed information about employer training for employees, click here.