health and safety training

Health and safety training

Understanding when and where health and safety training should be provided is very important to your business and your employees. According to the Health & Safety Executive over 200 people are killed each year in accidents at work and over one million people are injured. Over two million suffer illnesses caused by, or made worse by, their work. To reduce the risk of accidents, incidents and illness in the workplace employers are legally required to arrange and provide health and safety training to their workforce and is part of their duty the management of health & safety at work. Providing health & safety training will also help develop a good health and safety culture, feedback from training provided can allow employers to manage health and safety better and meet their legal responsibility to protect their employees. Health and safety training reduce risk of accidents to your clientele and the negative impact a reported accident would have in the local community.

This article is for employers who are considering what type of training they need to provide, to which employees and how often. It is not an exhaustive list of the training you might need to provide but more of a point in the right direction to get you thinking about who you should be providing training for and when. Every business is different and so every business has different training needs. It’s very important that you spend time understanding the training requirements of your business and how to effectively provide for them.

Mandatory training

The Health and safety At Work Act 1974  says
“It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure the provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees.”

As with most of the statements included in the health and safety act, the above is quite vague and purposefully so. This primary piece of health and safety legislation says that employers must provide whatever training is necessary to protect their staff, but puts the onus of exactly which training and how often onto the employer to organise. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, help us out further by identifying situations where health and safety training is particularly important, eg when people start work, on exposure to new or increased risks and where existing skills may have become rusty or need updating.

There are a number of sets of more specific regulations under the HSWA which include general or specific health and safety training requirements. We’ve listed some of these at the bottom of this article, these regulations are categorised into the different types of hazards that can be found in the workplace. So manual handling for an example is a specific type of hazard,  a person can injury themselves carrying many different types of things but the regulation talks about the act of manual handling, ie the hazardous activity itself.

Training needs analysis

A ‘training needs analysis’ is the first place to start for all businesses when considering exactly what training is required. This sounds scary but in reality, you’re already doing a mini one each time you think about who needs training.

Start by thinking about everybody that either has an effect or is affected by your business. Pay particular attention to those in the following groups:

  • Directors, CEOs, Non-Exec Board members (this group should have a strong positive influence on health and safety culture)
  • Senior and Middle managers (this group has a key role in driving the business policy)
  • Team leaders and Supervisors (this group often have a lot of responsibility, a large workload and know the job better than anyone)
  • Trainees (this group is at higher risk due to their inexperience with the job and environment)
  • New starters (this group is at higher risk due to their unfamiliarity with the job)
  • Those in a new role or completing a new task (this group is at higher risk due to their unfamiliarity with the job)
  • Those who use more hazardous equipment or have a more hazardous job role

Your training needs analysis should be a formal exercise that you complete fairly regularly to make sure that everybody has suitable training but the practice of thinking about your employees training should go on constantly, even if it’s not written down. When a situation changes, such as a job task or the people involved change roles, think about whether extra training is needed.

Health and safety training plan

The below five steps are taken from the HSE Guidance on health and safety training and explain how you can carry out a training programme from start to finish in in your business. To read the advice in full click here.

Step 1: Decide what training your organisation needs

Step 2: Decide your training priorities

Step 3: Choose your training methods and resources

Step 4: Deliver the training

Step 5: Check that the training has worked

Typical priorities for most hospitality business

Although every business is different, businesses operating in the same industry often have the same risks and so will often need to carry out the same type of health and safety training. This is the same for hospitality businesses. These are training priorities for all hospitality businesses at a minimum:

  • First Aid Training
    The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 say employers must make sure there are ‘adequate and appropriate’ first aid equipment, facilities, and number of qualified first aiders in the workplace. This means that you must have a way to provide first aid to customers, employees, contractors or anybody else affected by your business.The simplest way to do this, is to train enough employees, so that you always have a trained first aider on site. You will likely need to train more than one person in order cover for sickness and shift.
  • Fire Training
    The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005’ says that you must take the necessary steps to protect everybody affected by your business from the threat of fire. This means that you have a duty to train your staff in the risks of fire safety.There are two types of fire training to consider. Firstly, you should train everybody in your organisation on the general risks of fire. This can be done via a short course. Secondly, you must train enough people in your organisation to take on the role of Fire Warden. This means that they have a more thorough understanding of the risks which arise from fire but also the specific risks of you businesses and your strategy for reducing the risk.

Refresher training

Keep your employees knowledge up to date through adequate refreshers. Certain qualifications will have renewal dates attached to them which makes it easier to plan your refresher training but others don’t and you’ll need to use your own judgement.

If your delegates have received ‘in-house training’, meaning they haven’t received an accredited regulated certificate from an awarding body, then it’s likely an official renewal date won’t apply. So how do you know when you should renew the qualification? Assuming the qualification isn’t covered by a specific regulation (like the ones below), and even sometimes then, it comes down to your training needs analysis and your risk assessment of the job/person. You need to think about the total risk posed to the employee by the job or task.

Let’s take an employee who uses steps as part of their role for example. In-house, non-accredited training is a perfectly valid way of training the employee on how to use the tool safely (providing the tutor and training material is competent enough). The training will need to be renewed (or retaken) at regular enough intervals to satisfy the level of risk in the employee’s job role. If the employee is using the steps every day then you should consider regular refreshers, because it’s a high-risk part of their job – meaning the likelihood of an accident is fairly high, because they’re using it often and the consequences of an accident are high. Perhaps every 6-12 months would be fair. But if the employee is using the steps less frequently and only for small, short  or lower-risk tasks, perhaps less-frequent refresher training is required. We would recommend a maximum of three years between training sessions for this type of training but it’s possible you could go longer if you’re providing tool-box talks or smaller more frequent learning sessions – you need to work it out depending on your risk assessment.

Implementing a positive training culture

Large organisations may have one person or even a whole team who specifically dedicate their time to employee training, which is a brilliant commitment from the Board to training but might not be necessary or even possible for a smaller independent business. Creating and implementing an effective training plan doesn’t have to be such a time-consuming job if it’s done well and kept up to date regularly,

Health and safety training is not a one-off exercise. It has to be built into ongoing business management. No matter how operational resources you dedicate to it day to day, always make sure positive commitment is shown at Board level. But, include everybody in your plan, the law requires you to consult with your employees on training matters and seek the advice of professionals where necessary.

Have a section in your health and safety policy which is specifically about training and include roles and responsibilities. Ensure that health and safety requirements are built into job descriptions and not an additional task added on top, and make sure that your training programme suits the job tasks being asked.