Employers are legally required to provide health and safety training to employees. This guide outlines how to pick the best and most appropriate health and safety course for your organisation.
Managing health and safety in the workplace should be high on the list of employers’ and senior management’s priorities. In 2019/20, 693,000 people sustained an injury at work in Britain and 1.6m suffered from a work-related illness.
As well as the personal impact on the individuals affected, organisations can be hit by increased costs from enforcement fines, claims, time lost due to sick leave and reduced productivity. More than 30 million working days are lost each year to work-related illnesses and workplace injuries, at the cost of more than £16 billion.
Training is key to preventing injuries or illnesses, managing costs and encouraging a positive workplace health and safety culture. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and over 50 related regulations, employers are legally required to provide training to ensure that employees can carry out tasks safely and without risk to health.
Employers’ responsibilities for health and safety training
All employees play a role in maintaining workplace safety and everyone at all levels, including employers, managers, supervisors, contractors and self-employed people, need to have sufficient levels of training.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 outlines employers’ general responsibilities, and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 highlights situations where health and safety training is particularly important. This includes:
- Induction training for new employees, such as safe working practices, the organisation’s arrangements for first aid, and fire safety and emergency procedures.
- People who change roles, take on new responsibilities or become exposed to new or increased risks must be made aware of new health and safety risks.
- Inexperienced employee training should be prioritised as they can be particularly vulnerable to accidents. Inexperienced employees should also be adequately supervised.
- Employee and health and safety representatives must receive relevant health and safety training.
Training must take place during working hours and employees mustn’t have to pay for it. Training records must be kept to ensure that all employees have been trained which helps employers plan refresher training and for defensibility.
Understand your responsibilities under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the importance of a risk assessment in keeping employees, customers and others in your workplace safe with our managing safely training course.
Refresher health and safety training
Refresher training should be provided where the training needs analysis identifies a suitable period, risk assessment or accident investigation indicates a need or it is set by guidance or recognised training body such as IOSH . Use your training records to assess if it is needed and its anniversary date.
There is no general rule for refresher training, but it is recommended that training is revisited annually where there might be some criticality, a particular risk or investigations show that it’s required. An online health and safety awareness course is an easy way to do this in most circumstances. Training also needs to be refreshed when an internal incident that causes injury occurs, new equipment is introduced, or a process changes.
Specialist health and safety training
You should use risk assessments to identify any additional needs for health and safety training and if the controls need a level of understanding and adoption.
Certain activities require specialist training and have special requirements such as first aid, fire safety, work at height, working with hazardous materials and manual handling. If you are not carrying out the training in house, you should look for a specialist health and safety course to meet your legal requirements.
What form should health and safety training take?
Training can be carried out in-house by someone who is competent, but many organisations choose to use an external training provider. The best health and safety courses provide comprehensive instruction on how employees can do their job safely and raises awareness of any risks involved and how to deal with them.
There are various training formats, including:
- Face-to-face training in the ‘classroom’.
- On-the-job training.
- Practical training.
- Open and distance learning.
- Group or individual training.
- Online interactive learning.
Online training, such as the Health and Safety Awareness Course by Praxis42, can be a highly effective way to meet your legal requirements because employees can work from their own device and at their own pace. The training can be a combination of all the formats and is often referred to as ‘blended learning’.
Online or eLearning provides employers with records and certificates that are kept in a learning management system (LMS), removing the need for paper documents and the problems with compliance and defensibility. Online courses are a quicker way to get training to new employees and to provide refresher training to experienced employees so that they remain up-to-date on health and safety awareness.
The training you provide and the methods you use should consider the needs of all employees, including those without good levels of English or comprehension, people with poor literacy skills, and employees with disabilities such as hearing or sight restrictions, and those that have particular learner preferences.
What to look for in a health and safety training course provider
Given the importance of health and safety, it is vital you select a provider that is experienced, delivers high-quality training and is competent.
Getting the right health and safety training provider is important as the implications of getting someone not qualified or who lacks experience in the field can be dangerous. Examine the credentials of the provider and assess their experience. Qualified providers will typically have Chartered Health and Safety Practitioners.
If you work with other organisations or know other employers who have provided health and safety training, ask which courses they recommend and what the delegate feedback has been. Consult training providers’ websites for positive testimonials and look for case studies of satisfied clients.
Examine the course content to see if it will meet your risk assessment needs and ask for a free trial so you can assess the quality. If you’re choosing face-to-face training, ask for evidence of the trainer’s experience and qualifications.
Look at whether the course will provide your employees with the level of knowledge they need to safely do their job. If arranging training for specialist tasks such as fire safety or manual handling, ensure all requirements outlined in relevant regulations and guidance are covered.
Training course accreditation
One of the key considerations for selecting training is whether well-respected organisations accredit the health and safety courses. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), for example, is the Chartered body for safety and health professionals with 44,000 members in 99 countries. Founded in 1945, IOSH is recognised as an industry benchmark. Selecting an IOSH-approved course provides the confidence that your employees will receive quality training that’s up to date, produced by someone competent and has been approved.
Online eLearning courses
Using eLearning brings many advantages, including reducing the costs of training and compliance for employers. Look out for online courses that provide access to a learning management system (LMS).
An example of a great LMS is SHINE from Praxis42, which removes the chore of correctly filing and keeping track of paper certificates, setting reminders, chasing learners and juggling complex spreadsheets. Instead, all training records can be viewed and managed on one system with training certificates quickly printed as proof of compliance for audits or enforcement agencies’ visits or to provide up-to-the-minute management information in a dashboard.
SHINE also provides real-time feedback on learning progress and allows employers to manage organisation-wide training with tracking, reporting and auditing across teams.
Our IOSH Approved training courses include our Health and Safety Awareness Course and Health and Safety Induction training so you can help protect employees in the workplace and help meet your compliance needs.