Health and safety training requirements

Mark Owen – Health & Safety Expert

September 12 2016

As an employer, it falls on you to make sure your staff work in a safe environment. You should provide them with suitable training and highlight the importance of occupational health and safety.

Health and safety mandatory training can help you reduce workplace injuries and near accidents. Failing to meet safety legislation can lead to business disruption, compensation fees, or possibly imprisonment.

This guide will show you how health and safety training is a legal requirement for employers. We’ll also look at who requires health and safety training. And the benefits of health and safety training in the workplace.

Health and safety training

Health and safety training is simply the act of teaching people how to do a task safely and without effects on their health. For employers, this means showing an employee how to do something, and how not to do something.

Under the Management of Health and Safety at work Regulations 1999, employers are legally obliged to provide workplace health and safety training to their workers.

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires you to deliver information, equipment, and training to employees under your management.

Why should I provide health and safety training?

The importance of health and safety training in the workplace is clear. It helps you protect your employees and stay legally compliant.

Injured workers can face being unable to work, which affects business productivity. Here are the benefits of health and safety training in the workplace:

  1. Employee competency: this can help employees understand how to perform tasks safely, without meeting hazardous risks.
  2. Positive attitude: by creating a positive health and safety culture, you can normalise safety working standards for your employees.
  3. Legally compliant: meeting the legal requirements for health and safety in the workplace can protect you from financial costs. Like damaged equipment, lost production, or business disruption (your insurance may not fully cover them all.)

What type of health and safety training should I provide? 

Building a safety training plan can prove difficult. You need to be ‘reasonably practical’ when creating safety training standards. And include all training courses needed to stay legally compliant. Here are some examples of health and safety training required in the workplace:

  •       Safe working systems
  •       Risk assessments
  •       Using equipment and machinery
  •       Occupational hazards
  •       Incident and accident investigations
  •       Fire safety, evacuation, and first aid

You can deliver safety training through giving information, group demonstrations, and even work shadowing. All of which show the importance of occupational health and safety.

The Health and Safety at Work Act training requirements states you must inform your employees about safety training and issues in the workplace. This includes employees who are on work-experience and self-employed workers (who legally work under your control).

Who needs health and safety training in my business?

  • Employers – whether you are an employer or self-employed, you must keep updated on the latest health and safety training methods. That way you can identify and control hazardous risks in your business. 
  • Supervisor and managers – they need to understand and deliver health and safety training correctly. They should control and manage the safety standards whilst working with their teams.
  • Employees – any employee under your control has a legal right to appropriate health and safety training. That includes employees who are:
    • Full time
    • Part time
    • On work experience
    • Self-employed
    • Contractors

Employees who may need specific training:

Establishing which health and safety training should be provided can vary based on the employee. Training can depend on:

  • New employees requiring basic induction training
  • Inexperienced young workers who need supervision
  • Employees who take on additional job responsibilities
  • Employees who change their job role
  • Employees who need to update their work skills
  • Tailored training for health and safety training officers

How do I apply a health and safety training procedure into my business?

Firstly, you should promote a positive workplace attitude that recognises the importance of having health and safety mandatory training. Both you and your employees should recognise that the training is a vital policy you all need to follow.

You can comply with health and safety training regulations by following the HSE’s health and safety training plan. The plan outlines five stages that assure effective training.

Determine what training your business needs

Employers should recognize which skills and knowledge their workers need to perform a task safely. 

Refer to risk assessments for past workplace accidents to establish what training is needed to control hazards.

Implement safety awareness training for all your staff (including supervisors, managers, and directors). Safety training should include:

  • Managing health and safety.
  • Outlining who is responsible for work sectors and tasks.
  • Displaying the consequences if safety standards are not followed.
  • Identifying workplace risks, measuring their controls, and evaluating the outcome.

Decide on your training priorities

Identify what safety training is a legal requirement for your employees. Consider their knowledge, capabilities, and experience for performing tasks. And whether the job has excessive demands that could lead to serious harm or accidents. 

You should also include prioritising training for employees who take on additional work responsibilities. And training for new starters who are new to the work environment. These types of employees can easily be trained through methods like 1-1 supervision or by work-shadowing more experienced employees.

Training resources

There are several training methods you can introduce to your employees. Methods like coaching, in-class/ on-site training, or computer-based interactive learning.  

You can attain training materials for your business from organisations like:

  • NOS (national Occupational Standards)
  • Trade unions
  • Private training organisations
  • Independent health and safety consultants
  • Public employer bodies (Chambers of Commerce)

Remember, you can hire a safety training expert to run specific health and safety training courses. However, effective training can also be done in-house, with the right materials.

Carry out the training

Make the training information easy to understand for all your employees. (Especially those with learning difficulties, or those who might not understand English well).

It’s also wise to seek help from an external health and safety consultant for complicated safety training. Together, you can present employees with thorough safety training.

You (and the external trainer) should check that all resources, locations, and preparations are complete, helping to ensure a smooth learning process.

Evaluate the training

Make sure that your employees understand what you require from them. To ensure work safety and minimal hazard risks, ask them questions like:

  • What skills/ knowledge is needed to work safely?
  • How are you working to the safety training standards?
  • Has occupational health and safety performances recently improved?

You should also ask your supervisors and managers about their opinions on training results:

  • What feedback did you receive regarding the training?
  • Has there been a change in workplace behaviour and practice?
  • Do any workers require refresher courses for safety training?

Frequently asked questions about health and safety training

Is health and safety training a legal requirement?

Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, you are legally required to provide health and safety information, training and PPE to your employees.

Breaching the Act is a criminal offence, as you have legal duty to provide a safe working environment. The consequences of non-compliance can include:

  • Financial costs and compensation penalties
  • Damage to business reputation and brand
  • Industry disqualification
  • Endangering the lives of your workers and possibly non-workers

Do safety officers require health and safety training?

Yes, it is vital that all safety officers and representatives have updated knowledge and skills needed to perform their role effectively. You can provide safety officers with tailored safety training courses, which are available from trade unions and other organisations.

Some examples of specific health and safety training for safety officers can include:

  • Understanding health and safety legal system
  • Understanding their role as a safety officer
  • Carrying out risk assessments and identifying direct hazards in the workplace
  • Investigating accidents and injuries
  • Being a source of health and safety information for workers
  • Controlling risks and implementing changes needed for a safe working environment

How often should I provide health and safety training?

The law does not state a specific timeframe for providing your workers with basic health and safety training. But the Approved Code of Practise refers to annual updates for health and safety training.

Also, it’s suggested that you carry out further training after specific workplace situations. Like when near-accidents happen or when introducing new equipment to workers.

Do I need to include an environmental policy into health and safety training?

Whilst you are not legally required to have one, many employers find having targets and objectives for an environmental policy extremely useful.

Having a properly implemented environmental policy can help your business reduce its carbon footprint, enhance recycling, lower dependence for packaging, reduce waste, and improve efficiencies for finite organic resources.

Get advice on health and safety training requirements with Peninsula

The workplace itself can home a multitude of accidents and injuries. So, it is vital that you work to your safety standards and carry out appropriate training.

Focusing on employee welfare will lead to a positive effect on business productivity and workforce morale.

Peninsula can offers expert employment health and safety advice and help you create risk assessment and safety training perfect for your business. We can also introduce health and safety training procedures that can benefit you and your workers.

Peninsula clients also get access to 24/7 HR consultation on safe working requirements. And if you are not yet a client, you can still enjoy free advice from one of our business experts. Simply call us on 0800 028 2420

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