Are the right people being trained?

Safety Training matters – But are the right people being trained?

Plato was a philosopher in Classical Greece and the founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. But even he knew that training must be given to the right people

“Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.” – Plato

However, legislation requires every employer to provide whatever information, instruction, training and supervision is necessary to ensure the health and safety at work of their employees and others affected by their activities. So, this week I thought I would look at your requirements towards training and ways to ensure the right people get benefit from this training.

Why Health & Safety training matters

Accidents and ill health associated with work lead not just to needless pain and suffering but to huge costs and loss of business continuity. 144 people were fatally injured in work-related accidents the UK in 2016/17, over 609,000  work place injuries were reported and 1.3 million people suffered from a work-related illness leading to 31.2 million working days lost.

Ensuring safe and healthy working has to be a key priority for everyone at work and this requires real competence, as well as commitment and good intentions.

If you are a director, owner or manager of a business, you will appreciate that you personally need to be competent to lead the management of the business safely. But have you received the correct health and safety management training or are you just sending others on courses, hoping that will suffice?

Of course, you will also understand the importance of being systematic in ensuring that your employees and your contractors’ staff are competent when it comes to health and safety. But are you sending the right employees on to the right courses?

The way you approach health and safety training speaks volumes about your business, your values and your professionalism.

Why invest in Health & Safety training?

All businesses have a legal duty to provide information, training and supervision to employees to enable them to carry out their work safely, not just to front-line staff but also to directors, managers and those in other key roles (see section below).

Of course, this costs money and time and it may be that both of these are in short supply. But remember, there are major business benefits to be gained from safety training. Good training can cut down the number of accidents and incidents of ill health thereby helping to ensure faultless operations. Good Health and Safety training can make a major contribution to the success of your business. It also:

  • Helps your employees to identify hazards and adopt safe and healthy working practices
  • Helps to avoid the pain, anguish and financial costs that accidents and ill health cause
  • Fosters a positive culture of health and safety, in which unsafe and unhealthy working are not tolerated
  • Enables your employees to spot ways to improve health and safety management
  • Enables you to meet your legal duty to protect the health and safety of your employees and others.

But please remember that competence is more than having attended a safety training course. Experience is key too. You need to establish procedures to ensure that your organisation has the right people with the right knowledge and skills to manage occupational risks. Trusting to luck is just too risky.

You must analyse your company’s training needs

To ensure that you invest your limited resources appropriately you will need to analyse your requirement for health and safety training. Consider the roles listed below. Are you sure you are equipping key staff with the necessary skills and knowledge to play their role in preventing accidents and ill health?

  • Board directors (executive and non-executive)
  • Senior managers (and not just operations managers)

These people should attend Health & Safety for Directors and Senior Managers. A one-day course which raises awareness of the importance of health, safety and welfare among directors and senior managers.

  • Middle managers
  • Team leaders
  • Key functional roles (not just health and safety staff but fleet, HR, facilities, IT, procurement and finance staff)
  • Supervisors (especially of young workers)

These people should attend a Level 2 Award in Supervising Staff Safely. A two-day exercise which is aimed at

managers, supervisors, team leaders, department heads requiring gaining practical understanding of health and safety, and equipping them to undertake a realistic, workplace related assessment that leads to a level 2 qualification.

  • Key skill groups (designers, craftsmen, maintenance staff, drivers, admin staff etc.)
  • Trainees
  • Safety representatives
  • All new starters.

These people require a Level 1 course in General Health & Safety Awareness as a minimum. This course should cover the main areas of risk for the works they are involved in whether that is on a construction site or in an office.

In addition to the courses mentioned above there are a number of sets of regulations under the HASAWA which include general or specific health and safety training requirements. Examples include regulations covering:    

  • Asbestos – The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations
  • First aid – The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations
  • Noise and vibration – Noise at Work Regulations (NAW Regs) and The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations
  • Transport of dangerous goods – The Transport of Dangerous Goods (Safety Advisers) Regulations
  • Confined spaces – The Confined Spaces Regulations
  • Display screen equipment – The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations (DSE Regs)
  • Flammable materials – Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations
  • Lifting operations – Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations
  • Personal protective equipment – Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations (PPE Regs)
  • Substances hazardous to health – Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regs (COSHH)
  • Construction – The Construction (Design and Management) Regulation
  • Electricity – Electricity at Work Regs
  • Fire precautions – The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
  • Manual handling – Manual Handling Operations Regulations (MHO Regs)
  • Work equipment – Provision and Use of Work Equipment (PUWE) Regs

There are many other topics where the HSE has issued key pieces of guidance and on which training should be provided. Some examples include:

  1. Accident Investigation
  2. Driving at work
  3. Lone Working
  4. Risk Assessment
  5. Stress

What Plato said then holds true for training today. A number of years ago training was deemed a crucial element in the development of an individual. Nowadays it has often become a bitter pill forced down peoples’ throats by HR.

Quite often, there are glitches in the learning needs analyses, the design of the training content, where the training is being held, and other such problems. Sometimes it is the way the training is presented to the learners – it must be put over as giving them an opportunity not as a punishment.

So, what are the main reasons people have a dread of training courses?

Most people don’t enjoy going to training because they are distracted by the work they left behind at their desks. They spend time thinking about it while they are in training. Most managers don’t consider ‘time spent training’ in employee evaluations as enthusiastically as they might mandate it in the workplace.

Many times, when a training program is organized by HR where managers are required to nominate subordinates, then rather than selecting candidates who deserve the particular training, such individuals are selected who can be easily spared from work. This training is irrelevant to them. In turn neither the individual nor the organization benefit from the training.

Attending a course means accepting that you still can learn something. There are people who avoid going to training about certain subjects because this would mean accepting a weakness in the area. Some people don’t like the name ‘training course’, because they think they know everything there is to know about a subject. Some people also feel that they will become liable to prosecution if they have attended a course and later something goes wrong – Ignorance is bliss approach to things.

Training, no matter how great, holds no value if it is not relevant to the learner. I recently heard of a case of a delegate on a 5-day course, walked out mid-way through day 2, saying that this course was not relevant to him. So who booked him on this course and paid for it if it wasn’t relevant?

Often, even when a right candidate undergoes the right training and comes back with a strong urge and enthusiasm to implement what been learned, he is given a cold shoulder by his boss and questioned about missed targets rather than priority to learning and implement new ideas.

Only a couple of weeks ago I visited a company who wanted help with their safety. During our discussions I learnt that they had previously sent about 10 of their managers on a 5-day “Managing Safely” course. But, when these managers tried to implement what they had learnt, they were told that “You haven’t got time to do all of that. You will have to try and improve the safety without stopping what you are doing.”

So, what can be done?

Breaking this non-sustainable loop requires a deep understanding that Health & Safety training has only one purpose: to develop individuals so that they are aware of the hazards and risks associated with their work. This should then ensure that they feel safer and happier in their role and do not end up in hospital or worse.

“Training” itself as a concept and process needs drastic changes. In today’s environment training means – Knowledge and Best Practices sharing.

Training should provide value to the participant. Education in whatever form, formal, skill-building, development, or training, comes down to the same factors of success.

  • It’s got to be relevant in one way or another,
  • it’s got to be challenging,
  • it’s got to be useful,
  • it’s got to be inspiring, and
  • each participant has to feel like you’re talking to them.

The training and development initiative should also be “evidence based” with pre and post measures being taken to evaluate performance and development improvements. This can be brought about by asking questions of participants at the start and again at the end of the course. This way both the trainer and the delegate can evaluate the true value of the training.

The bottom line is that effective learning requires an interesting topic, interactive and diverse in delivery style and delivery mode, developed/delivered according to best practices, with considerations given to the context, content and application needs of the learners (i.e. on-the-job) and most importantly it is about the participants (attendees).

The Wilkins Safety Group are a British Safety Council approved Training Centre.

This allows us to run Ofqual accredited qualifications. These Qualifications sit on the Regulated Qualifications Framework  and include such courses as:

  • the CSCS Green Card which was developed in partnership with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) for people wishing to apply for a CSCS card.
  • Level 2 & 3 Supervising Staff Safely mixed with Risk Assessment which is comparable to IOSH Managing Safely

We are also an Association for Project Safety accredited Trainer for construction-based training.

Other courses are approved by The Highfield awarding body for compliance

We have also form relationships with other trainers providing City and Guilds, Lantra Awards, CITB CSkills Awards and NPORS. So we can provide you with Asbestos Awareness, First Aid, 2 Day SSSTS training and 5 Day SMSTS training.

So, for all of your Health & Safety training you need look no further than The Wilkins Safety Group

Taunton & Somerset CPD Group at The Exchange House Taunton

Please remember that we now run these CPD events at the Exchange House, 12 – 14 The Crescent, Taunton TA1 4EB on a fortnightly basis

The next of the CPD events is listed below:

As previously requested, if you could let us know whether or not you can attend it would be greatly appreciated. Also, if you would like to give a talk, or know of somebody who would, please contact Jon at [email protected]

Our next Seminar will be on Wednesday 10th October 2018. Could you please arrive by 12:30pm prompt.

Our speaker for this one is Don Roache from Marley Alutec with their recently updated RIBA approved CPD entitled “Durable Eaves Solutions”.

  • Aluminium and the environment
  • Durability
  • Design
  • Fascia, soffit and coping systems
  • Rainwater systems
  • BIM
  • Technical and installation support

If you haven’t already booked your place, or if you are not on the CPD Seminar mailing list but would like to be please drop Jon an email and he will deal with your request.

As per our last one if you could let Jon know whether or not you can attend within 7 days of receipt of his email, it would be greatly appreciated.

Contact Details [email protected]  07831 714199 or 01458 253682

*Early notice of 24th October meeting.

 Richard McMullan of Kinley Ltd will talk about “Roof Terrace and Podium Construction” on Wednesday 24th October.

For more details about these and the other forthcoming CPD talks please see cpds for October and December.