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Health and Safety Training

Why is health and safety training important?

Having your employees receive regular health and safety training will give them the knowledge and awareness to be safe in the workplace whilst they go about their duties. Although risk can never be totally eliminated, learning information on health and safety courses can significantly reduce the chances of an accident or incident occurring.

As well as the moral reasons for providing a safe place of work, there are also legal and financial issues associated with health and safety (or rather the lack of it). As far as the law goes, virtually every country in the world has health and safety legislation in place which is designed to protect people at work. This legislation needs to be understood and complied with, otherwise the company runs the risk of being fined (this also falls under the financial reasons as to why health and safety training is important). In certain serious instances, those in charge of the company could also face criminal charges for failing to comply with the legislation.

In terms of the financial consequences, not only can the company be fined as mentioned above, but a worker who is injured at work may sue for compensation. Depending on the severity of the injury and the level of negligence involved, this can be an extremely high figure which could have a particularly damaging impact on the business, perhaps even forcing it to close. For this reason, the price of health and safety training can be just a fraction of this cost, making them a sound investment.

Even if workers do not sue for damages or compensation, having them off work due to illness or injury will cause a drop in output, which will impact on the firm's profitability and bottom line. Not only will they receive sick pay whilst they are off work, but temporary workers may need to be brought in to provide cover, which incurs recruitment costs and additional wages.

NEBOSH Diploma Qualifications

As mentioned above, NEBOSH Diploma qualifications are amongst the most prestigious health and safety qualifications available. Designed for health and safety practitioners and those that are serious about health and safety in the workplace, a NEBOSH Diploma will make you stand out from the crowd when it comes to health and safety qualifications. In fact, a NEBOSH Diploma is so comprehensive that many universities accept it as a full or partial entry requirement onto an MSc programme.

Permit to Work Training

Certain high risk activities that are particularly dangerous may require a permit to work. Examples of these activities include work in confined space, high voltage electrical work, dealing with hazardous substances such as radioactive material or waste, working at height and tasks involving heavy machinery. Developed by the chemical industry but later adopted by businesses in many other areas, a permit to work system ensures that certain tasks are only carried out once stringent checks have been performed and permission for the work to be undertaken has been signed off by a site manager. This ensures that all necessary safety precautions have been taken and implemented before high risk work commences.

In order to be effective, those following and administering the permit to work system need to have received appropriate health and safety training relevant to the task they are performing, as well as specific permit to work training to ensure that they understand why the system is so important, and that the procedures and practices it entails are followed correctly.

COSHH

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health, or COSHH for short, covers the safe storage, handling, use and disposal of hazardous chemicals and substances. These substances are not only those which can cause death, but the term also encompasses irritants and those items which can cause discomfort rather than serious ill-health. Because of this, COSHH covers a wide variety of hazardous substances.

Virtually every worker in every industry will encounter a COSHH risk to some degree, even if it is minor such as exposure to relatively weak cleaning products. As far as health and safety training is concerned, not only is COSHH training extremely important, but the sheer variety of COSHH risks and types of hazardous substances means that any sort of COSHH training is likely to be of a bespoke nature for a group of employees from the same organisation, which addresses the particular risks that they face and the chemicals and substances they are exposed to.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

The Health and Safety Executive, often referred to as the HSE, is the UK national watchdog and independent health and safety regulator. It aims to reduce work-related injuries and deaths by working with regulators in local authorities to investigate and inspect workplaces, as well as ensuring business understand their health and safety responsibilities. Where necessary, those who fail to comply with health and safety legislation can be fined and have enforcement action taken against them.

NEBOSH

NEBOSH are one of the most recognised health and safety awarding bodies in the world. There are NEBOSH qualifications suitable for all, depending on the level of health and safety knowledge they require for their particular job role or career aspirations. These include the prestigious NEBOSH Diploma Qualifications (see below), the intermediate level Certificate qualifications such as the NEBOSH General Certificate, and the Award qualifications which provide a good foundation in particular health and safety issues. The qualifications are perfect for managers, supervisors and employees who have health and safety responsibilities within the workplace, as well as being looked on extremely favourably by potential employers when applying for a health and safety job.

IOSH

The Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is the biggest health and safety membership organisation in the world. IOSH aim to regulate and steer the health and safety profession, maintaining standards and providing impartial, authoritative guidance on health and safety issues. They also advise the government on health and safety issues too.

Founded in 1945, IOSH courses are recognised and respected by employers all over the world. The most popular qualification, IOSH Managing Safely, is designed for managers and supervisors in virtually any industry, giving them all they need to know for understanding risk assessments, legal requirements and the general management of health and safety in a place of work.

Health and Safety NVQ

A health and safety NVQ is a vocational qualification which requires the collection of evidence from a person's normal day-to-day duties. This means that the candidate does not need to attend a classroom-based health and safety training course, and can complete the qualification in their own time, without having to take time out of the workplace. Because a qualification such as the NVQ Level 5 Health and Safety requires the collection of evidence, it can only be taken by those who are currently working in a health and safety managerial role, who are directly involved with influencing the health and safety policy and practice of their particular organisation.

Although not essential, it is recommended that those who wish to undertake a health and safety NVQ have already obtained a qualification such as the NEBOSH General Certificate or equivalent.

Manual Handling Training

Manual handling involves the moving of loads using bodily force, such as lifting, pushing, pulling etc. Incorrect manual handling can cause a variety of injuries to the body including strains, sprains, cuts and other musculoskeletal disorders, particularly back problems.

Providing manual handling training to your workers will not only make them aware of the potential hazards, but also teach them the correct manual handling techniques to reduce the chances of injury when manipulating loads, and avoid the possible lost working days that come with staff absence from the workplace.

Types of Health and Safety Training

There are a number of different ways of receiving health and safety training. The most effective method is in-person, face-to-face training, either through an open course or bespoke health and safety training. This allows course attendees to benefit from the knowledge and experience of the course tutor, as well as being able to ask questions at any time in order to clarify a certain point that is not fully understood. Through interactive discussions and group work, they also benefit from the ideas and knowledge of their fellow attendees.

Some people prefer to go down the e-learning or distance learning route when it comes to health and safety training. Whilst this may work for some, pass rates are often lower and many who start a course in this way struggle to see it through, as after a hard day at work it is difficult to then sit down and concentrate for a few hours more on topics such as legislation which are often not the most exciting at the best of times! Whilst delegates on a classroom course are likely to remain engaged and learn whilst doing group work and partaking in discussions, those sat on their own in a room are likely to lose focus pretty quickly and fail to absorb the information required to pass the assessments. Also, it may take a lot of time for any questions they have to be answered by phone or email from a busy external course assessor, unlike on a training course where the tutor is available right there in the room during the training.

Health and Safety Instructor

For those interested in becoming a health and safety instructor, or have been tasked with teaching health and safety to others within their particular business or organisation, a health and safety instructor course will combine health and safety information with essential teaching techniques to ensure that the new trainer can successfully transfer the knowledge from their brain to their delegates. It is also well worth considering a teaching qualification such as the City & Guilds Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (PTLLS) qualification. Attending a PTLLS course and passing the assessment will give the attendee a formal qualification in training and will allow new trainers, facilitators and teachers to support learners whilst teaching.

Enhanced Learning Credits

For current service personnel, or those who have left the services within the last ten years, enhanced learning credits can provide a grant of 80% (up to a potential maximum of £2,000) towards courses that result in a nationally recognised qualification at Level 3 or above on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

Health and safety training doesn't come cheap, particularly comprehensive qualifications such as the NEBOSH Diploma or the full NEBOSH Construction Certificate, but Enhanced Learning Credits greatly assist with the financial burden of undertaking training which will give those leaving the forces the qualifications needed to get a health and safety job and start a new career.

Those companies who provide training courses under the Enhanced Learning Credits scheme need to be a registered ELC provider in order to accept delegates under the scheme. Potential candidates also need to be registered with the Enhanced Learning Credits Administration Scheme (ELCAS) to receive the funding.

Construction Site Safety

Construction sites are some of the most dangerous of all places of work, with a multitude of potential hazards and dangers. Workers on construction sites must work safely, as they have the potential to injure or kill either themselves or those around them, including fellow workers and members of the public nearby. This makes construction site health and safety an extremely important topic, with many health and safety courses covering safety issues on a construction site.

These courses include the NEBOSH Construction Certificate, as well as the CITB/ConstructionSkills SSSTS and SMSTS certificate qualifications which are designed for site supervisors and site managers respectively. There is also now the SMSTS refresher course which is for those who have achieved the full SMSTS qualification within the last five years and wish to refresh their health and safety knowledge.