Refresher training ensures employees maintain knowledge and competence which is vital with respect to fire, health and safety. Here we discuss the significant benefits of refresher training for organisations and when it is required.
By law employers must provide information, instruction, training, and supervision to ensure the health and safety of employees and others. Risk assessments and training needs analysis highlight what type of training is required, who should receive training and how frequently it should be refreshed.
Here are 6 reasons why refresher training is an essential element of any organisation’s health and safety strategy:
1. Helps employees retain important information
Repeated training ensures employees retain key health and safety information and improves long-term competence and safe behaviours.
The Ebbinghaus forgetting curve is a concept that was developed by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus in the late 19th century. It describes the rate at which information is forgotten over time when there is no attempt to review or reinforce it. His research highlights that regular exposure to material through refresher courses ensures people retain the critical knowledge and skills they need.
Refresher training helps to ensure employees maintain competence and thoroughly understand health and safety policies and procedures, expected behaviours and how to use of safe systems of work.
2. Enables employers to address knowledge gaps
Refresher training enables employers to address gaps in knowledge. You might, for example, notice through workplace inspections or audits that employees are not following safe systems of work.
Addressing these gaps promptly can prevent accidents and injuries.
3. Reduces mistakes and boosts productivity
Refresher training helps to make sure best practices become ingrained in employees’ daily routines. This reduces the likelihood of mistakes, which can lead to improved productivity and reduced downtime. Fewer accidents, incidents, and ill-health cases results in a safer and more efficient workplace.
4. Encourages a collaborative learning culture
Regular training ensures employees understand the need for health and safety and recognise that learning and being fully up to date on safe systems of work, and safety policies and procedures is a key part of their job.
Encouraging regular refresher training fosters a collaborative and continuous learning culture within the organisation. It underscores the importance of health and safety, making it a shared responsibility for all employees so the workplace is safer for everyone.
Explore our extensive range of IOSH Approved and CPD Certified online training and Instructor-led courses that deliver engaging, accessible and cost-effective health and safety training and refresher training to employees.
5. Supports compliance with current standards
Regulations, guidelines, and organisational policies and procedures evolve. Refresher training keeps employees updated on these changes, ensuring they remain in compliance with the latest standards. This is crucial in industries with dynamic safety requirements, as failing to adapt to changes can lead to increased risks and potential legal issues.
6. Ensures compliance with regulations
Neglecting health and safety regulations and standards can lead to legal consequences, including fines, claims, and payouts for negligence. Refresher training helps ensure ongoing compliance, reducing the risk of legal issues. It also strengthens an organisation’s defensibility in case of any incidents by demonstrating a commitment to training and safety.
When is refresher training is required?
Risk profiling will help you identify when employees require refresher training (see ‘What are the benefits of a learning management system?’ below). The Health and Safety Executive describe the need for training to ensure the health and safety of employees:
‘The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires you to provide whatever information, instruction, training and supervision 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.’
While there isn’t a legal requirement for when refresher training is required, employers should always be aware of a need for updating and refreshing employees’ health and safety knowledge and competence. This provides evidence to support compliance with health and safety legislation, the organisation’s management system and helps ensure the safety and wellbeing of employees, customers, contractors, and others.
Situations when refresher training is required include:
- Employees returning to work – If an employee has been away from work for a long period of leave, illness or secondment they should receive refresher training when they return.
- Changes in processes– If an organisation’s health and safety internal processes change, refresher training should be provided so employees know how they should behave and what they should be aware of.
- New equipment– If new equipment or machinery is introduced in the workplace, refresher training that takes into account the findings from a risk assessment and how to use the new equipment safely should be provided to the relevant employees.
- After an incident– If an incident or near miss occurs within an organisation that leads to someone being injured or not, refresher training may be recommended as part of the investigation process to help employees understand safe systems of work, processes and responsibilities.
Who requires refresher training?
There are various specific cases where refresher training is recommended, including:
The Health and Safety Executive ‘strongly recommends that first-aiders undertake annual refresher training, over half a day, during any three-year certification period. Although not mandatory, this will help qualified first-aiders maintain their basic skills and keep up to date with any changes to first-aid procedures’.
Praxis42 offer first aid appointed person training to ensure those appointed to manage first aid can carry out their responsibilities effectively and with confidence.
Premises, plant and equipment containing asbestos can be dangerous, so asbestos awareness training is essential. If the material is disturbed, invisible and harmful fibres can be released into the air and inhaled which can cause fatal diseases.
While there is no legal requirement to repeat an entire formal awareness refresher training course every 12 months, the Health and Safety Executive says ‘some form of refresher should be given, as necessary, to help ensure knowledge of asbestos awareness is maintained’. This is often achieved through an approved eLearning solution like our IATP and IOSH approved asbestos awareness training.
Fire safety training
Employees must be aware of their organisation’s fire safety procedures and know what to do in the event of a fire.
It is essential that fire marshals and wardens understand their responsibilities and how to ensure the premises is evacuated safely in an emergency.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 says fire safety training should ‘be repeated periodically where appropriate’ and ‘adapted to take account of any new or changed risks to the safety of the employees concerned’.
Due to the importance of fire safety, the general approach in organisations is that training takes place at least every 12 months.
Benefits of a learning management system
Using a learning management system (LMS) will help you risk profile employees based on their roles and keep track of which employees need refresher training.
The Praxis42 SHINE platform LMS allows you to risk profile and organise employees into groups, award competence badges and keep track of training compliance across your organisation in real-time.
Report dashboards provide real-time training status for users, allowing you to plan and coordinate an effective training programme and send reminders. Managers can also look at their employee competence groups and plan refresher events.
This integrated approach ensures employees receive the necessary health and safety training, reducing risks and promoting a safe, legally compliant workplace.