The Benefits of Health and Safety Training in the Workplace

Health and safety training is very often seen a nuisance and a time consuming, distraction and disruption by many businesses. As a consequence it’s often pushed to one side and ignored or excuses are made as to why it should be left for another time.

It’s easy to understand why some businesses feel this way given the pressure of “getting things done” and meeting deadlines etc. However by ignoring health and safety businesses very often open themselves up to safety issues and instead of saving time, these issues simply have to be dealt with later and in most cases they take up much more time than if health and safety training had been put in place in the first place.

Year on year employees from industries of all kinds are injured in the course of carrying out their jobs. In most cases these injuries could have been avoided with a little training in health and safety matters.

The benefits of health and safety training far outweigh the small inconvenience of the time required to undergo training – from the avoidance of injury and sometimes death, to better safeguarding and improved working practices, health and safety should be seen as a positive step not something to be avoided.

Risks Exist in Every Workplace

Perhaps the first question should be “What is a health and safety risk”?  The Health and safety Authority says “When we refer to risk in relation to occupational safety and health the most commonly used definition is “risk is the likelihood that a person may be harmed or suffers adverse health effects if exposed to a hazard.” A hazard is “a potential source of harm or adverse health effect on a person or persons“.

The level of risk is often categorised upon the potential harm or adverse health effect that the hazard may cause, the number of times persons are exposed and the number of persons exposed. For example exposure to airborne asbestos fibres will always be classified as high because a single exposure may cause potentially fatal lung disease, whereas the risk associated with using a display screen for a short period could be considered to be very low as the potential harm or adverse health effects are minimal“.

Risk Assessments

A systematic process of evaluating the potential risks that may be involved in a projected activity or undertaking.

It’s every employers duty under UK law to carry out detailed risk assessments of all work areas and tasks. A risk assessment allows a business to identify and evaluate risks in the workplace and to put in place appropriate precautions to minimise any risks found. By doing a risk assessment, you protect your business and employees against potential accidents to the best of your ability and take a proactive rather than reactive stance.

There are many ways to carry out a risk assessment in the workplace but the ultimate goal should be:

  • Start by identifying the hazards/risks in your workplace
  • Identify who may be harmed and how
  • Evaluate the hazards/risks and how to deal with them
  • Write down what you find in terms of risks and record how to deal with them
  • Review your risk assessment on a regular basis and update as required

For more information read our article on How to Carry Out a Risk Assessment. There is also a great deal of useful information on the HSE website regarding risk assessments: http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/controlling-risks.htm and http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg163.htm.

Introducing Health and Safety to Your Workforce

Many businesses introduce health and safety in many different ways. It maybe through some form of induction training that all new staff go through, it maybe through health and safety training courses that employees are required to attend or through refresher training as and when required.

As an example you could set up induction training to cover a range of topics (health and safety being just one of them):

  • Where they will be working in the building
  • Duties and responsibilities
  • Who they will be reporting to and where they are situated
  • What to do in the event of sicknesses or if they are going to be late to work
  • Disciplinary procedures
  • Where amenities are found e.g. the canteen, break rooms, toilets etc
  • How to evacuate the building in an emergency and what they’ll hear to alert them to an emergency
  • How to report and accident or near miss at work
  • Who to talk to if they feel a working practice is unsafe or could be better managed in terms of any risks
  • What training they’ll receive for the work they do

Health and Safety Training

Health and safety induction training can be done in-house, but in order to be effective the trainer will need to have undergone some kind of training themselves in order to effectively and efficiently carry out the training of other members of staff.

Alternatively many businesses look to outside organisations like New Broom Training to provide the relevant training courses they require. New Broom Training can provide health and safety training and consultancy services.  Contact us on 01795 500816 for more information.