What are your health and safety training needs?

Gavin Scarr Hall - Director of Health and Safety

October 11 2022

There are risks in every workplace, whether it’s a busy construction site or a quiet, one-room office. Training is a vital tool in managing health and safety, and for many, it’s their introduction to thinking and acting safely in the workplace.

Training communicates the essential information you need to get across. Think where you’d be without it. If the fire alarm went off now, would you know where your assembly point is? Who is your nearest first aider if someone slips and knocks their head on a desk?

What does the law say about health and safety training?

The Health and Safety at Work Act states a general requirement for you to provide necessary information, instruction, training and supervision to employees.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, expands on this, highlighting that training is especially important for new employees, anyone exposed to new or increased risks, and anyone whose existing skills haven’t been updated in some time.

Why does everyone need health and safety training?

Everyone needs regular training specific to their role. When you’ve done a task every day for years, it’s easy to become complacent. We often assume a level of awareness in others that they might not have.

D, a self-employed tree surgeon, did just that. He was felling trees with a chainsaw and then removing the branches, while his 16-year-old employee collected the sections.

The young worker went to pick it one branch, unaware it was still attached to the tree. D’s chainsaw jammed, pulling the 16-year-old’s right arm into the still-running chainsaw blade.

The blade amputated part of his index finger and cut deep into his hand. The young worker was permanently disfigured and had to have years of operations to regain full use of his hand.

HSE found that D had failed to adequately train his employees on working with chainsaws. D pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £10,000.

How do you make sure everyone is trained?

Start by identifying your training needs. Prioritise the highest risks first. Decide who needs training, and in what areas. Choose your training methods, and tailor the training to your needs – what will be most effective for your workforce?

Once the training is complete, you need an ongoing commitment to check that the training is working. Evaluate knowledge in the short term and monitor behaviours in the long term.

Review your training needs regularly, to keep track of who is competent and who needs a refresher course.

Good health and safety training should promote proactive thinking and develop safe habits in your workforce. Some workers may not have developed these habits yet, either because they are new to the role, or new to the task they’re presented with. That’s why a clear and consistent training programme is so important, whatever sector you’re in.


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