The Renewed Importance of Health and Safety Training

The role of health and safety training and similar knowledge has become even more important due to and during Coronavirus. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought an unknown risk to the workplace, and the wider world, and has enforced the need for improved and better standards of workplace health and safety.

Staff need to feel confident and safe in the workplace, when returning after absence or due to furlough or time spent working at home. Training is key to this. Your business’ regular practices and procedures have probably been updated and tightened due to COVID-19 and this will in turn impact on other risk assessments and so staff will need to be trained and have a good understanding of any changes.

Staff who have spent time away from the workplace need to be provided with information on what to expect on their return to work and how you can help ensure they have the appropriate health and safety training for both current times and when we return to the new normal.

Understanding your Legal Obligations

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states employers must “so far as is reasonably practicable” provide information, instruction, training, and supervision to ensure the health and safety of employees while at work.

In addition to this, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 further highlights the importance of specific health and safety training and states it is particularly important when:

  • People start work
  • New risks become apparent (such as COVID-19)
  • Skills are out of date and need updating

There are further regulations which make specific training such as First Aid necessary and while employers may not have the capacity or experience to provide relevant training, there are courses and training providers who can help.

Aims of Health and Safety Training

Relevant health and safety training helps to ensure organisations and their employees are safe at work. It will help to:

  • Develop a positive and forward-thinking approach to health and safety in the workplace
  • Ensure employees are not working unsafely and are at lower risk of injury or illness while at work
  • Ensure you are meeting your legal duties as an employer

It is both a sound business decision and something which allows you to ensure you are protecting your employees in line with the law.

Remember, while new employees, those newly promoted and safety representatives will need specific health and safety training, all employees need periodic training and it shouldn’t be something you neglect, especially in the current climate.

Carrying out Health and Safety Training

The current climate means face to face training isn’t necessarily recommended and many providers offer online courses or top-ups, suitable for employees who are updating their training as well as those who are new to the company. Interactive e-learning and online courses can be just as effective as in-person training and you can explore different options to suit your individual business’ needs. It’s also worth considering there are specialised courses for different aspects of workplace health such as mental health awareness training and learning disability-focused training which may be relevant for your workplace.

Coronavirus has changed our workplaces in many different ways and a tightening of our health and safety training and commitments is one of the more positive outcomes.