Health & Safety Training
There are over one million injuries at work every year in the UK and many of these are totally preventable. Preventing accidents and ill health caused by work can be greatly assisted by the use of effective Health & Safety Training.
Training - The Definition
This can usually fall into three categories:
- Helping people to learn how to do something
- Informing people of what they should or should not do
- The provision of information
The challenge set for most trainers within an office environment is that they will more often than not have to attempt to get the health & safety message across on a minimal budget. Formal training can be very expensive but often the right message can be provided through the effective use of high quality and cost effective materials such as videos, booklets and posters. You should consider planning at least some of your health & safety training regimes around these tools.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
Applicable to offices and a wide range of other businesses. The regulations require all employers to provide information, instruction, training, and supervision so that their employees work in healthy safe conditions.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
This states that health and safety training is particularly important:
- when people start work (induction training)
- on exposure to new or increased risks
- where existing skills may need refreshing or updating
The Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 and the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996
Requires employers to consult their employees, or their representatives, on health and safety issues. Representatives appointed under either of these sets of regulations are entitled to time off with pay for training in their duties.
There are also a number of other regulations which include specific health and safety training requirements e.g. first aid, manual handling etc.
What type of training is needed?
Managers and Supervisors
Need the same training as employees but they will also need to understand how they are expected to deliver on set health & safety criteria.
Need to understand:
- The basics of health & safety before they start work (e.g. arrangements for first aid, fire and evacuation etc) see office safety awareness booklets
- How to work safely (see next section)
- The health and safety policy, how it works and the role they play
- The line of communication they can use to raise health and safety concerns with the employer
- Any new health & safety information if they change jobs or take on extra responsibilities
- A reminder of the above through refresher training if a top up of skills are needed see Office Safety The Facts video package
Young employees can be vulnerable to accidents and may need particular attention paid to their needs. Whilst induction training should cover this area it is advised that they are also supervised for a period of time.
Identifying the skills and knowledge required to work safely
- Assess current skills and knowledge and identify the gaps
- Review the accident book and identify any training needs arising out of incidences
- Consult employees for their views
- Assess and address corporate/board level training needs
- Risk assessments should identify any further specific training needs
Training should be prioritised where it is a legal requirement and to those activities that pose the greatest risk.
Assessing the effect of the health and safety training
When there is an established training regime you may want to periodically check whether the training has worked. If there are a significant amount of negative responses to these ‘markers’ you will need to change your method or style of training.
- Did your employees understand what they need to do? This can be established if you provide some sort of test immediately after the training
- Are they actually working safely in all aspect of their job as they have been trained? Has there been a change in behaviour and practice? To evaluate this you may need to carry out periodical audits; this usually involves walking around the office observing what is happening
- Has there been any improvement in your organisation’s health and safety performance? Check the accident book and the total number of days off work as an indicator
- Trainee feedback ask for honest responses, if these are to be written encourage the use of anonymous feedback forms
Also always consider ways in which the training could be improved and simplified.
The Benefits of Health & Safety Training
- Allows employees to perform their work safely and free from risk of injury form the actions of other employees
- Provides for a positive health and safety culture within everyday working life
- Provides employees with the knowledge to manage health and safety effectively
- Provides legal compliance with the requirement to protect the health and safety of your employees
- Helps your business avoid the human and financial costs of accidents and ill health caused at work
Health & Safety Executive leaflets on managing health & safety:
- Health and safety training (PDF)
- Managing health and safety: Five steps to success (PDF)
- Consulting Employees on Health and Safety (PDF)
You may also be able to get a government-assisted loan to help meet some of the costs of training if you have no more than 50 employees. Contact your local Business Link (England), Business Shop (Scotland) or Business Connect (Wales).
- Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare: Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 - Approved Code of Practice and Guidance — Health and Safety Executive
- Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1974 (Public General Acts - Elizabeth II) — Peter Vergo
- Management of Health and Safety at Work — Health and Safety Executive
- A Manager’s Guide to Health and Safety at Work — Jeremy Stranks
- Safety Representatives and Safety Committees — Health and Safety Executive
- Safety Representatives and Safety Committees (Approved Codes of Practice) — G E Williamson
Disclaimer: The Office Safety Company have provided the ‘Quick Guides’ on the basis that the content and advice contained within these documents is to the best of our knowledge accurate at the time of publication. The Office Safety Company does not accept any liability for the accuracy of the information provided in the ‘Quick Guides’.