As an employer or employee, you will surely be familiar with the typical reaction from staff when the subject of health and safety training comes up. People’s eyes glaze over immediately and they may even take on the physical appearance of a child who has been sent to tidy their bedroom.
Considering how difficult it can be to find anyone able to recall attending a health and safety training session that was anything like fun or engaging this is to be fair, quite an understandable reaction.
Health and safety training sessions have a bad reputation. Staff will tell each other how they sat watching power point presentations for hours, just to learn how to pick up a box on a manual handling course, whilst others will be able to tell you exactly what type of biscuits they were offered during the breaks but have no idea what the trainer was droning on about all day because their brain switched off shortly after arrival.
For an employer investing money for staff to receive essential training this is surely a complete waste of time, after all, it should not be about simply ticking the safety training box out of sheer obligation for the sake of it, the aim should always be for staff to receive quality training that has a positive impact on safety in the workplace.
In order to improve safety levels and reduce the risk of accidents in your workplace, it is crucial to find and implement a health and safety training program that is effective, rather than boring and tedious. Without proper training, the likelihood of accident and injury is increased and accidents at work have a negative impact on an entire business.
Statistics show that an alarmingly high percentage of accidents at work could have easily been prevented with quality training. Accident prevention is in everyone’s best interest so if you are an employer and you know the program you currently have in place is merely satisfying your legal obligation to your staff, but could be significantly improved, perhaps now would be a good time to revisit this important area of your business and begin to implement some changes.
It is important for employers to communicate with staff and involve them in this process. By involving them in the decision making process, employers clearly demonstrate that they value their teams opinion and input and this can help to create a more positive working environment. Staff should always feel comfortable about approaching their managers and sharing concerns so that obvious risks can be highlighted and resolved at the earliest opportunity.
A quality health and safety training program should be:
A beneficial starting point is to hire a safety officer to visit the premises, to assess the various risks, observe staff in the working environment then offer their advice as to any improvements they would recommend.
Frequently the most cost effective option for businesses is to provide training on site, via a quality-training provider. Training providers should be reputable, with plenty of experience and able to tailor a suitable package to meet the needs of each business. As well as it being more cost effective to carry out training on site, this is often the preferred option for employees as it is more convenient and they tend to feel more comfortable in a familiar environment.
It is vital for training to be specific to the businesses needs and directly relevant to those being trained so that they can relate to the content of the course. The type of risks faced by individuals working in a scientific lab will vary a great deal to those faced by office workers or construction workers. A bespoke course is therefore essential.
There is always going to be a fair amount of legislation to cover during a health and safety training session but this should not take over the day. Death by power point achieves nothing and thankfully there are a number of excellent training providers out there who understand the importance of engaging their audience and encouraging them to interact with one another, take part and share their experiences. Practical, hands on training is fun and productive.
Ask trainers for information about their preferred training approach and find out about the techniques they use to deliver health and safety training. If you are not convinced they have what it takes to engage a group, simply look elsewhere. If a trainer finds their own subject of expertise boring they will have zero chance of getting anybody else interested in it!
Some successful training approaches to look out for could include:
- Motivational games
- Interactive demonstrations
- Role-playing games
- Team challenges
Any combination of the above can significantly help to engage course candidates and maintain their attention; in fact you would be surprised at what an excellent motivator a small bar of chocolate can be for many people (me included)!
Health and safety training should not be viewed as a necessary evil or waste of money. Businesses are obliged to comply with health and safety laws so it makes sense to implement a quality, informative program of training, to ensure that employees are safe, remain in good health and maintain a high level of productivity.
Proper training results in confident employees who have an increased awareness of risk and know the correct procedures to follow in the event of an accident. What is more, they feel valued, safe and trust you their employers all the more for they know that they are not at risk beyond the normal levels associated with their work environment or job.
Happy employees means productive employees. If nothing else will convince you of the benefits of investing time and effort in a health and safety training programme then perhaps that will!
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