Refresher training is important for ensuring employees maintain knowledge and competence which is particularly important with respect to fire, health and safety safe systems of work, policies and procedures. This guide outlines why and when it is needed.
Employers are required by law to provide information, instruction, training and supervision to ensure the health and safety of employees and others. Risk assessments and training needs analysis should be used to highlight what type of training is required, who should receive it and how frequently it should be refreshed.
But training isn’t a one-off process. Training, compliance and safe behaviour should be regularly assessed and provided to ensure employees remain competent, compliant with the training and desired behaviours, up-to-date and that training reflects lessons learned from accidents, incidents, review of risk assessments, inspections and audits.
Refresher training is important for ensuring employees maintain competence, have a good understanding of health and safety policies and procedures and the expected behaviours and use of safe systems of work. Up-to-date training is important if an incident does occur that results in an injury or near miss so that employees know what to do to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
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.
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The benefits of refresher training
Refresher training provides many benefits:
- Helps employees retain important information – Repeated training ensures employees retain key health and safety information and improves long-term competence and safe behaviours.
- Keeps employees updated on changes or policy or procedures – Regulations and guidance can change, which result in changes to the organisation’s policies and procedures. Refresher training ensures employees stay up to date.
- Helps employers identify any knowledge gaps or training needs – Refresher training allows employers to spot where there might be a need for extra training. You might, for example, notice through workplace inspections or audits that employees are not following safe systems of work.
- Reduces the chances of mistakes and boosts productivity – Refreshing training means the required actions become second nature, and employees are less likely to make mistakes. This results in improved productivity, reduced downtime, accidents, incidents and ill-health.
- Encourages a collaborative and continuous learning culture – Regular training ensures everyone in the organisation is on the same page. It means that all employees understand the need for health and safety and recognise that learning and being fully up-to-date on safe systems of work, safety policies and procedures is a key part of their job.
- Ensures compliance with regulations and avoids penalties – If you fail to follow health and safety regulations, approved codes and guidance, you might face prosecution and a financial penalty and claims and payouts for negligence. Refresher training reduces the chances of that happening and increases defensibility.
When refresher training is required
The Health and Safety Executive describes 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.”
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 your organisation that leads to someone being injured or not, refresher or updating training may be recommended as part of the investigation process and will help employees reconfirm understanding of safe systems of work, processes and responsibilities or any new requirements.
Who requires refresher training and when?
Risk profiling will determine who requires refresher or updating training. There are no fixed rules for how often refresher training should occur, it is generally a good idea to review it on at least an annual basis. The findings of any risk assessment should determine refresher training frequency.
There are various specific cases where refresher training is recommended, including:
In its guidance, the Health and Safety Executive says it “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 offers first aid appointed person training.
Premises, plant and equipment containing asbestos can be dangerous. 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.
Praxis42 offers IATP and IOSH approved asbestos awareness training.
Fire safety training
Employees need to be aware of their organisation’s fire safety procedures and know what to do should a fire occur. Fire marshals and wardens also need to understand their responsibilities and what needs to be done to ensure the premises is evacuated safely in the event of 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.
COVID-19 return to work training
Due to the changing nature of workplace health and safety guidance and regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic, regular training is required to ensure employees understand how to protect themselves and others.
Praxis42 offers COVID-19 return to work awareness training.
Benefits of a learning management system
Using a learning management system (LMS) will help you risk profile employees based on their role and then 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 a 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.
Ensure your employees are effectively trained with our range of IOSH Approved and CPD Certified online training and Instructor-led courses covering topics such as health and safety, fire, food safety, asbestos awareness and cyber security.