Training for a safe workplace

Many people think that, in order to train people, they must attend a formal training session in a classroom environment, however, that isn’t really true.  People learn by many different methods from reading a poster to learning by doing.

  • People learn from reading posters, signs and written procedures.
  • They can learn by working with an experienced colleague who will ‘show them the ropes’.  This used to be known as ‘sitting by Nellie’.
  • In today’s technological age some things can be learned by using a computer as a learning aid.
  • Formal courses to acquire qualifications also contribute to competence.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASWA) requires the employer to provide instruction, information and training.  In many places the Act also refers to a ‘Competent Person’.

Competence depends not only on the capability of an individual, but on the appropriateness of that capability to the particular task in hand. A simple mnemonic to apply to competency is KEPT

  • Knowledge
  • Experience
  • Personal attributes
  • Training and qualifications

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, reg.13(2) (MHSWR) states that adequate health and safety training must be provided whenever it is most likely to be needed.  This includes:

  • On first starting with the organisation (Induction)
  • On the change of function / new responsibilities within the organisation
  • On the introduction of new work equipment / a change of the current work equipment / new technology into the work of the staff
  • On the introduction of new systems of work or processes or a significant change those already in existence

The regulations also state that the training is repeated periodically – although no time scale is suggested – this indicates that it’s important to refresh skills and knowledge at regular intervals.  This will depend on the risk levels relating to the activities – the higher the risk, the more frequently training will be needed.

Not only should training take place, but records of training – the programme, the attendees, the date and what was covered – must be kept for at least three years.

Common sense dictates that a training plan for all staff relating to their roles, skills, safety, responsibilities and changing legislation should be put in place and regularly updated.

Chris Hilder