An Essential Health and Safety Training Guide

All workers are entitled to work in environments where risks to their health and safety are properly controlled. Under health and safety law, the primary responsibility for this is down to employers. Employers have a duty to consult with their employees, or their representatives, on health and safety matters.

This brief essential health and safety training guide for the workplace will outline the steps that you need to take to make sure that your employees will receive the appropriate health and safety training for their position. In this essential training guide, you will find information on:

  • who is responsible for workplace health and safety
  • who needs training, what form this training should take and how you can organise training as an employer.

Also, if you are an employee or a representative of one – you might find this guide helpful.

Your Legal Requirements

The Health and Safety at Work Act

You are required by law to ensure that your employees receive whatever training is necessary (as long as it is reasonably practicable) to ensure their safety at work – according to the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974.

Health and Safety at Work Regulations

In addition to this, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations of 1999 has identified the situations in which education is most important. These situations include when a new employee starts work, when an employee is first exposed to a new risk, or when the skills of the employee may need updating.

Many employers are not able to provide this training themselves, so they book health and safety courses with There are many different health and safety courses to choose from, high quality training in e-learning, online (instructor-led) and distance learning formats.

Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations of 1977

According to the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations of 1977 and the Health and Safety Relations (Consultation with Employees) of 1996 – it is necessary that you consult employees on health and safety issues. Any representatives who are appointed for your staff under these regulations should be entitled to time off from work with pay, so that they can receive essential workplace training for these duties.

Health and Safety Regulations (Training for Employment) of 1990

It is important to note that any students who are completing their work experience are covered by law – as established by the Health and Safety Regulations (Training for Employment) of 1990.

Of course, your workplace might also be subjected to other specific regulations that are related to your business, such as what you need to know about asbestos and first aid at work.

What is the Purpose of Health and Safety Training?

Health and safety training is not just about taking a formal training course – it is about making sure that employees know what they should or should not do. It is about coaching employees so that they lean how to do things safely and correctly.

Here are some of the advantages of providing health and safety training to your employees:

  • Offering your employees health and safety training ensures that they know how to perform their tasks correctly without risking injury or ill health.
  • It will help to create a culture of safety in the workplace, making the correct practices second nature.
  • The right training will help your business to avoid the financial cost of occupational ill health and accidents, as well as the distress and upheaval that these incidents cost.
  • Also, appropriate health and safety training will help you to avoid lost production time, damaged products, demotivated staff and other problems.
  • Accidents and incidents are very bad for the reputation of your company and might result in lost business, strained relationships or difficulties in recruiting staff. Health and safety will help to reduce these problems in your workplace.
  • Making sure that your staff are trained will also reduce your business insurance costs.
  • It is your legal duty to protect the health of your employees, so offering training is not only advantageous – it is essential.

What Are the Employers Responsibilities for Health and Safety?

It is important for employers to be aware of training and regulations, so that they can identify and control the risks and hazards associated with their work. Also, employers should know how to get help from a local Chamber of Commerce, a trade association or a health and safety enforcing authority. It is crucial for employees to understand their responsibilities when it comes to consulting their employees on related issues.

Workplace Safety Training for Managers and Supervisors

It is important for managers and supervisors to understand health and safety, so that they can manage employees in a safe way. They might also need to have training in specific hazards that are related to your industry and how to control these risks. They need to be very well informed when it comes to practices in the workplace, so that they can pass on this knowledge to the employees that they are in charge of supervising.

IOSH Qualifications

The IOSH Managing Safely course is highly suitable for both managers and supervisors.

The IOSH Managing Safely course is three-days in duration which should give those at management or supervisory level – including team leaders – the skills, knowledge and resources they require to competently manage the health and safety needs within a team.

The IOSH Managing safely course has a strong focus on identification of hazards, risk assessment and risk control, processes to investigate accidents and to continually monitor risks and adapt or respond to changing situations.

A key aim of the training course is to develop a positive and proactive attitude within teams through effective management of health and safety. Creating a positive health and safety culture within an organisation is a crucial aim of the course and is vital to all companies to enhance safety and productivity.

NEBOSH Qualifications

If you’re a health and safety professional consider a NEBOSH qualification, these are aimed at professionals across industry, at management and supervisory level. The are also basic NEBOSH qualifications that are suitable for those beginning a career in health and safety itself.

Aimed at management, the certificates will teach you how to manage health and safety, identify common hazards and to put in place measure to reduce risk in the workplace. Legal obligations are also covered at certificate level.

Working Safely Training for Employees

Every employee needs to understand working safely and how to carry out tasks without risking their health. They should be aware of your health and safety policy and their place in it. Also, employees should know that they can come to you if they have any concerns. An “open door” policy should be in place when it comes to safety and employees should feel comfortable expressing their concerns with you.

Suitable Working Safely Courses

Contractors or Self Employed People Working for You

If a temporary contractor or self-employed person is working for you, you are responsible for their health and safety. Keep in mind that they might not be familiar with the hazards in your particular working environment, so they need to be informed of the specific safety systems you have in place. Make sure that these types of contractors and temporary workers are given a safety briefing and that their safety in the workplace is being monitored.

If you do have someone working under your control and direction, yet they are considered self-employed when it comes to tax and national insurance purposes, they will still be considered your employee when it comes to health and safety. It is important to take the required actions so that you can ensure their safety while carrying out work for you. When you are employing workers on this basis it is recommended to seek legal advice to make sure you know where you stand.

What Are My Responsibilities?

First of all, you need to:

  • Understand the training, capabilities, knowledge and experience of all workers.
  • Make sure that the tasks you are asking them to perform don’t exceed their training or abilities.
  • Make sure that all equipment given to workers is appropriate for the job and well maintained.
  • Make sure that all employees are given the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) for their specific work environment and that they know how to use it properly. Ensure that employees wear this equipment consistently.
  • Ensure that all new recruits have the appropriate training that is needed so that they can work safely, such as evacuation procedures, fire safety and evacuation and first aid training
  • When an employee changes jobs or takes on new responsibilities, they need to be given the appropriate health and safety training.
  • Young and inexperienced employees should be adequately supervised and trained.
  • Anyone who hasn’t received training in a while should have their skills updated and refreshed.
  • An employee who has been appointed a safety representative needs training which will reflect the responsibilities they have been given.

How to Be a Positive Leader

The first step is to make health and safety a priority in your workplace – demonstrating that you are committed to ensuring the safety of your employees. If you need to, you can appoint a consultant who can assist you. Remember, you need to provide training during working hours and it should never be at the expense of your employees. This might mean that you need to make special arrangements for your shift workers or part timers.

Determine the Appropriate Health and Safety Training

  • What type of training is appropriate for your organisation?
  • Identify the skills that your employees need to have in order to perform their job safely.
  • Consider any past injuries or near misses – how can they be avoided in the future.
  • Perform a risk assessment to determine the risk factors in your particular workplace – and how you can avoid them.
  • Ensure that everyone in the workplace receives the correct awareness training, including supervisors, managers and directors. This will help ensure that everyone knows how to manage health and safety, who is responsible for what, the consequences if something goes wrong, how to identify hazards and measures to control those hazards.

What Are Your Most Important Training Priorities?

  • Are there specific training courses that are required for your employees by law?
  • Is there any area in which a lack of training could result in serious harm?
  • It is also important to give training to new recruits, who are unfamiliar with the working environment – as well as employees changing jobs or using new equipment.
  • You can speak to your employees to find out more about their health and safety needs and priorities.

Finding the Right Training Resources

There are many options out there for the format of your training, from open and distance learning to classroom training to giving information or instruction or even computer based and interactive e-learning.

Don’t forget to consider workers who might not speak English as a first language, workers with poor literacy skills and those with disabilities such as hearing loss or sight impairment. A different method of learning or translated materials might be necessary in this situation to ensure that all employees are able to receive the important safety information.

There are many resources out there that you could use when providing health and safety information to your employees. These include trade unions, National Occupational Standards, private training organisations, further education colleges, independent consultants, employer bodies or bodies that award qualifications. If you decide that you need help from external sources, these are all great resources for training.

Delivering the Training

Once you have determined the resource that you will use to provide your company with training, make sure that your employees will understand the information and that a number of methods are used to put the message across. Also, make sure that if you hire a training provider they have the resources that are needed, a suitable venue and enough time to prepare themselves.

Check the Training Has Worked

After providing your employees with training, it is important to check in and make sure that the training has actually worked.

  • Ask your employees if they understand what is required of them and if they now have the skills that they need to work in a safe manner.
  • Monitor your employees to ensure that they are actually working as they have been trained to. Have they changed their behaviour and practices?
  • Assess whether there has been an improvement in the performance of your organisation.
  • Ask for feedback from your managers and employees and determine whether further training is needed.
  • Take a look back – which training method was most suitable for your employees? What improvements could have been made?
  • Make sure that you keep a good record of your training, so that you can give a refresher course when necessary.
  • If you have any questions about safety or need guidance, contact the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or another official expert.

As an employer, it is not just recommended but absolutely essential that you do everything reasonably practicable in order to ensure that your workers are informed about safety practices. You have a responsibility to protect their health – so that they can carry out their work without risk of accident or injury.

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