Workplace Safety – Why Safety Training Is Essential

Health and safety training is often viewed as a requirement that is in place purely to satisfy legal needs – however used properly it can have far wider impact and benefit for companies than simply meeting a legal requirement.

Why Train Staff in Health and Safety?

The need to train staff in health and safety is a legal requirement in most countries creating a basic duty for all employers – the legal needs vary with your industry and the risks faced by staff – but the typical examples would be general workplace safety for all staff, manual handling training for those employed in lifting, carrying etc., specific equipment type training (e.g. Fork Lift Trucks), specific skills for Managers and Supervisors plus potentially training in safety specific topics such as risk assessment.

In addition to the legal needs safety training delivered well should engage the staff and enable them to carry out their jobs safely, efficiently and in line with the company’s needs and wishes.

It should be remembered safety training can include specific skills to operate equipment or vocational training linked to the job.


General Safety Training:

In law there is a universal requirement to ensure staff receive suitable and sufficient health and safety training – this can be achieved by simply buying off the shelf packages – be they classroom, web based or whatever.

However to work best – and ensure your legal needs are met – it is best to look for training geared to your company and the work it undertakes. This will be based around the core knowledge of safety law in your country but should look specifically at the risks and controls required in your workplace.

It will generally cover: Basic Safety Law, The duties of Individuals and workers, typical risks and controls in your industry.

Vocational Training

All too often forgotten when devising a training plan is the training that staff get in their general development.

For example working in the Motor Trade most mechanics receive training in their work – this includes safety issues – it may not be marked as a safety course but it provides specific job skills and knowledge essential for safe working and must always be remembered.

Equipment Training:

Some equipment in some countries has very specific and defined legal training needs – Fork Lift Trucks, Cranes etc. being the most common. You should obviously ensure all such needs are met.

In addition common sense plus the general need to ensure people are trained and competent means other items may need formal training – Telehandlers frequently sit outside of formal requirements but given the risks involved it would be naive at best to allow untrained people to use them.

Equally is a place for in house training – many items of plant and equipment can be trained in house by experienced staff – this is often done but rarely recorded.

Specific Skills

Most legislation now has a specific training requirement within it – the UK for example has specific training needs for Manual Handling, Working at Computers, Work at Heights linked in with the specific Regulations.

Many people offer generic training – equally you can deliver courses that have high face value and more legal value if you focus the training on your environment. Picking a box up may teach the basics of lifting – but it can seem of little value to people working with awkward loads or in less than ideal environments – this can be fixed by simply including real world exercises based in your own workplace.

Managers and Supervisors:

These are often best served by receiving training aimed at them – including the basics of safety in the workplace but looking at the management efforts required and discussing in detail their duties both in law and in the company safety systems.

Training Type:

We all get confused when training is mentioned – training can mean many things – but the core aim of imparting knowledge and skills is they key part.

Training may take the form of:

Formal Classroom Type
Internet Based
Old Fashioned Leaflets and Training Packages
Practical – “sit by nelly” – trained by experienced staff in situ on the task or equipment.
Recording Training:

When staff receive training – including the practical type – it’s important you record the training, the type, date etc.

It may also be useful to define competence and be able to measure the training outcomes – so be it a quick quiz, a practical demonstration of the skills learned or something more elaborate – it does show the training worked and give you more confidence in its value.


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