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Why Do I Need Health & Safety Training?

What is training?

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.

Why provide health and safety training?

Providing health and safety information and training helps you to:

  • Ensure that people who work for you know how to work safely and without risks to health.
  • Develop a positive health and safety culture, where safe and healthy working becomes second nature to everyone.
  • Meet your legal duty to protect the health and safety of your employees.

Effective training:

  • Will contribute towards making your employees competent in health and safety.
  • can help your business avoid the distress that accidents and ill health cause
  • can help you avoid the financial costs of accidents and occupational ill health such as damaged products, lost production and demotivated staff.

The law

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires you 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 your employees.

This is expanded by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which identify 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.

Like many employers, you may not be in a position to provide this training on your own, in which case you will need competent help.

What about self-employed people?

If a person working under your control and direction is treated as self-employed for tax and national insurance purposes, they may nevertheless be treated as your employee for health and safety purposes. You need, therefore, to take appropriate action to protect them.

If you do not wish to employ workers on this basis, you should seek legal advice.

Who needs health and safety training?

You do! Whether you are an employer or self-employed, are you sure that you’re up to date with how to identify the hazards and control the risks from your work? Do you know how to get help – from your trade association, your local Chamber of Commerce, or your health and safety enforcing authority? Do you know what you have to do about consulting your employees, or their representatives, on health and safety issues? If not, you would probably benefit from some training.

Your managers and supervisors do! If you employ managers or supervisors they need to know what you expect from them in terms of health and safety, and how you expect them to deliver. They need to understand your health and safety policy, where they fit in, and how you want health and safety managed. They may also need training in the specific hazards of your processes and how you expect the risks to be controlled.

Your employees do! Everyone who works for you, including self-employed people, needs to know how to work safely and without risks to health. Like your supervisors, they need to know about your health and safety policy, your arrangements for implementing it, and the part they play. They also need to know how they can raise any health and safety concerns with you.

Contractors and self-employed people who may be working for you do! Remember, these people might not be familiar with your working environment and safety systems that you have put in place for regular employees.

You should:

  • Take into account the capabilities, training, knowledge and experience of workers;
  • Ensure that the demands of the job do not exceed their ability to carry out their work without risk to themselves and others.

Some employees may have particular training needs, for example:

  • New recruits need basic induction training into how to work safely, including arrangements for first aid, fire and evacuation;
  • People changing jobs or taking on extra responsibilities need to know about any new health and safety implications;
  • Young employees are particularly vulnerable to accidents and you need to pay particular attention to their needs, so their training should be a priority.
  • It is also important that new, inexperienced or young employees are adequately supervised;
  • Employee representatives or safety representatives will require training that reflects their responsibilities;
  • Some people’s skills may need updating by refresher training

Your risk assessment should identify any further training needs associated with specific risks.

How can I do it?

Firstly, you should show your commitment so the people being trained recognise that the training is important. You should consult your employees or their representatives on the planning and organisation of the training. You should make sure that you properly prioritise and plan the training needs for your business.