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Training doesn't need to cost a fortune!

By law you are required to train your staff but it doesn't need to cost the earth!
Training – you have to provide it and your employees have to follow it – that is a clear requirement of the law, but you don't need to make a ‘meal of it’ and it doesn't need to cost the earth!

But, first, the boring bit. You DO have to provide it - So says ‘The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974’ – it shall be the duty of every employer to ensure the provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable the health and safety at work of his employees.

And So says ‘The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999’ – every employer shall ensure that his employees are provided with adequate health and safety training.

Your employees DO have to follow it (again, don’t just take my word for it) - So says ‘The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974’ – it shall be the duty of every employee while at work as regards any duty or requirement imposed on his employer or any other person by or under any of the relevant statutory provisions to co-operate with him so far as is necessary to enable that duty or requirement to be performed or complied with.

So says ‘The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999’ – every employee shall use any machinery, equipment, dangerous substance, transport equipment, means of production or safety device provided to him by his employer in accordance both with any training in the use of the equipment concerned which has been received by him and the instructions respecting that use which have been provided to him by the said employer in compliance with the requirements imposed upon that employer by or under the relevant statutory provisions. - you may want to take the employee bit and post it on your notice board to ‘focus minds’ within your workplace.

Now your employees cannot break the law by not following your instructions and by not co-operating with you (their employer) unless you provide the training in the first place. Some of this training is formal and complex but not all of it.

If you appoint first aiders in a place of work then they obviously require fairly specialist external training to ensure their competence to fulfil that role. Also, if you (when you) appoint fork lift truck drivers or crane operators then again, they require fairly specific external training to ensure their competence to operate such equipment so as they do not endanger themselves and others working around them.

So, this is the kind of training which tends to get done – consistently and with no questions asked (and the cost of it ‘swallowed’) as part of that process – because it is clear that YOU HAVE TO DO IT.

But what about training in the safe operation of the de-pollution rig, or training in the safe operation of the flattener or baler, or training in the safe removal of tyres from a wheel or fitting of tyres to a wheel, etc.
What do you actually do – honestly ?
Do you do nothing, did people only get trained when the equipment was first installed by the supplier you purchased it from or do you assume ‘well its common sense isn’t it’? In a workplace we cannot assume ‘common sense’ – we must train.

Phil Wass
Phil Wass is a Chartered Safety and Health practitioner and has a Masters Degree in Occupational Health and Safety. He is Managing Director of Wass Management Limited who specialise in all aspects of health and safety training, advice and guidance. Phil is an advisor to the Motor Vehicle Dismantlers' Association and understands the needs of the industry. He regularly carries out work for MVDA members.

If you have any health and safety issues, visit Wass Management Limited, email Phil or you can contact him on 01773 541441
If you do not train then you are breaking the law as seen by the factory inspector when something goes wrong (or before something goes wrong) and being negligent in the eyes of the ‘no win no fee’ brigade who will come chasing you for compensation for the injured employee (and although your insurer will foot this bill in the short term I am afraid that you will foot it in the longer term as your annual insurance premiums start to rise as a result of the claims received).

But, you do not need to incur expensive costs from outsiders to ‘train’ your staff most of the time – just get one of your experienced long serving members of staff (who is safety conscious) to run through a list of safety do’s and don’ts for that equipment with the employees using it. How long will this take ? How long will this cost ? Not long and not a lot.

But remember that to play safe this must be a formal exercise (recorded and signed off by your ‘trainer’ and by the employee being ‘trained’) so that you have concrete evidence that this did actually take place if ever you need to demonstrate this.
Oh! and by the way – training just the once is not enough.
You should carry out short refresher training at ongoing intervals to ensure ongoing understanding and compliance.

Such training is even more important following an accident or near miss when (as is usually the case) someone was not following proper procedures – so they need to be refreshed (you may even need to invoke disciplinary procedures under some circumstances).

So, from now on do not think of all training as incurring expensive external services. Re-think the whole process. You are probably giving training on an ongoing basis without thinking twice about it, without thinking of it as training and certainly without recording it (and giving yourself the benefit of proving you have provided it) ?

I bet that whilst walking around your premises you sometimes stop somebody doing something you see as dangerous. You point out the ‘error of their ways’, you point out what could happen to them and others if they persist in such practices and you point them back on the ‘straight and narrow’ again. You have probably just prevented an accident occurring tomorrow or next week.

You have just provided ‘refresher training’ so record it, get it signed off and start looking at most of your training as just ongoing ‘on the job’ education.

In the construction industry they refer to such activity as providing ‘tool box talks’. These are also regularly provided in car manufacturing facilities as well and in many other places of work. In simple terms, you saw something dangerous today (or yesterday) so you pull everyone together and ‘re-train’.

As always, I hope you have found this article useful. Until next time – stay safe and get in touch if we can help you in any way at all.

June 2013

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