Conducting a Health and Safety Training Program in the Workplace

A good occupational health and safety program is not complete without training. It is significant that the workers are able to understand what to do to avoid health and safety hazards and what to do in case of accidents. Giving orientation sessions is not enough because the workers also need skills, aside from knowledge, in performing tasks related to the program. Training, therefore, is the key to enable the workers to gain control over their health and safety in the workplace since this addresses the skills needed for the learners.

Now, how does a company conduct a training program on occupational health and safety? The company, the safety committee, or a group assigned to be in charge of training should first consider the training needs of the workers, which can be done through a survey or series of interviews. Knowing their training needs would help the group to tailor fit the topics for the workers. For instance, are the workers knowledgeable on emergency measures? Or are they oriented on the use of equipment? If the workers do not know how to use a fire extinguisher or where the exit routes are, perhaps the trainers can plan sessions for these. Making a training design, therefore, is dependent on the training needs of the workers.

In creating a training design, bear in mind the knowledge and skills the workers need to learn. Appropriate methods must be planned carefully. The trainers may choose from a wide variety of methods such as giving lectures, facilitating group discussions and activities, demonstration and return-demonstration, and even role playing.

After determining the right method in training the workers, the trainers should plan what resources they will use. Resources include references for the training and training materials. Going back to the example on training in the workplace, the trainer should include an appropriate number of fire extinguishers and some flammable materials for demonstration. Flowcharts may also be made and used to train them on emergency measures. A map or an actual tour in the workplace may also be done to show the exit routes.

After creating the training design, the next thing to do is to implement the training. It is important though at the end of the training session if the workers are able to learn what you taught them. Evaluation of the workers can also be done days after the training.

Training for occupational health and safety in the workplace can be a daunting and difficult task. But after observing that the workers are able to perform their roles in ensuring good health and safety for everyone, the company could see that it is all worth it.

Health and Safety Training With Hazardous Materials

Health and safety training is incredibly important in the workplace, without it many people would be unaware of the potential dangers they can come across in daily life. Obviously some jobs are more dangerous than others which makes it even more paramount to be aware of the danger if you have a job that involves moving hazardous materials. Here in this article we shall look at the health and safety needs of working with dangerous materials.

Hazardous materials health and safety training has to be very vigorous otherwise an accident could result in there being an adverse reaction with the environment and create danger to both human and animal health. Good safety practices involve material safety data sheets, hazardous materials labelled and up to date safety equipment.

Material Safety data sheets are an important aspect to training because they provide information to employees about the materials they are working with. They are also required to prevent unnecessary dangers that could occur if the materials were not handled properly. They also contain information about what do to in the event of a spillage or an accident that involves the materials. Managers need to ensure that these documents are on hand anytime they are needed and it is also important that manager encourage their employees to read this information.

When dealing with hazardous products in the work place then it is very important that they are labelled. Out of all the precautions that are put in place for health and safety training this is one of the most important. People cannot handle dangerous materials if they do now know what they are. When items are not labelled properly people are not encouraged to try and identify them if they are not qualified. The first instinct with unknown substances is to sniff them to help identify, but this is seriously discouraged because of the health risks that can occur from doing this.

Finally, one of the other important aspects to health and safety training around hazardous products and materials is the storage of them. New employees will need to know the different processes that ate set in place for certain materials as some will require specially made containers of receptacles. These will always need to be used at all times. Other rules will include materials not being carelessly mixed as they could react dangerously together. Overall, when it comes to hazardous substances in the work place there has to be many health and safety rules implemented to ensure the safety of those who work around them.

Has the Health and Safety Pendulum Swung Too Far?

Mark the 1st April 2015 in your diaries now. This is the date that the revised New Zealand Health and Safety at Work Act comes into force. If the NZ government has anything to do with it (and after all, it wrote the thing; well the Australian Government did!) this Act will change the face of Health and Safety as we know it.

With some aggressive targets of reducing work-place deaths by 25% over the next five years, this bill has wide-reaching impact. In summary some of the major changes will be:

An expanding vocabulary

The Act will introduce some new concepts (and words) to the life of virtually everyone involved in enterprise. Firstly there’s the concept of a ‘worker‘. Note that this is nothing to do with their employment status. The fact that someone in your office or factory is self-employed has no bearing. They are a worker in your workplace.

A new acronym, the “PCBU” rears its head. This a Person in Charge of a Business or Undertaking and might be a company or corporation. Note the absence of the word ’employer’. The PCBU’s main responsibility it to ensure the Health and Safety of all people at the worksite, including employees, clients, visitors, contractors (and their subbies). PCBUs can be companies (and any person who is deemed to be in a position of a Director, whatever their actual title), partnerships and body corps.

The PCBU will have some Officers. Officers are people who make decisions that affect the whole business (or a substantial part of it). Generally, Staff are not Officers, nor Line Managers or Supervisors.

However, there is bound to be lots of legal fun when the time comes draw the lines between Directors, CEOs and Senior Managers and how each role is defined within the terms of the Act. The legal constitution of the company will be important here, as will their processes of corporate governance and their Board structure.

Officers will no longer have the power to delegate responsibility. Instead they will inherit a formal positive duty to ensure the whole Governance, Risk and Health & Safety structures are functioning well. This due diligence also includes the need to acquire and maintain a current knowledge of workplace H & S issues. Officers will also need to ensure the PCBU has appropriate resources and process to eliminate or reduce risks.

A culture of safety

A new emphasis in on the word engagement. PCBUs now have a duty to engage workers in the entire Health and Safety culture. Simply informing them is not enough; workers are entitled to contribute to the decision making process, raise issues and express their views.

Workers can be represented by Health and Safety Reps (HSRs) and/or Health and Safety Committees (HSPs), and workers must be provided with reasonable opportunities to engage with these on an ongoing basis. Training for HSPs has become a major new focus, with the PCBU being under a duty to provide that training without cost and at normal pay.

Once an HSR has been trained, they can issue a Provisional Improvement Notice (or PIN) in effect giving notice to the PCBU that an item of equipment, for instance, is in their view unsafe and cannot be used. Although the PCBU has the right to appeal, the PIN may not be removed until after the appeal process has been completed.

PINs can be escalated to the status of Improvement Notices, then onto Prohibition Notices. It is these areas that PCBUs are most likely to come into contact with Worksafe, who will provide a team of inspectors to advise and enforce.

Workers have a right to cease unsafe work, although the PCBU can redirect the worker to other tasks that are appropriate for that worker.

Summing Up

In summary, the new Act seems to be placing a lot of emphasis on the concepts of process, due diligence, verification, transparency and reporting. In fact there seems to be a whole lot of sticks, with the carrots few and far between.

In the ‘stick’ department, the types of offences which can be committed under the Act have been categorised under three headings:

Reckless Conduct (the most serious breach). Penalties include fines of up $3m and/or 5 years in jail for Officers

Failure to Comply with a Duty, Causing an Exposure to Risk. Fines range up to $1.5m, including individual Officer

Failing to Comply with a Duty (a “technical breach”) Fines go up to $500k, again including individual Officers

Remember that Officers can be found guilty of a breach, even if the PCBU has not been convicted.

On the positive (carrot) side, of course lots of this is based on common sense, and the government can be applauded for trying to reduce workplace deaths and harm substantially over the next few years.

They appear to be taking a reasoned approach to the legislation, and Worksafe have indicated that their role will be one of mentors and advisers initially. However, it’s pretty safe to say that the big sticks will come out after the first few years. Being one of their first test cases taken to court will not be a pleasant experience!

Health And Safety For The Business Manager

It is a pity that health and safety is often met by derision in corporate business as a spectre of doom and over indulgence in factors that managers feel are out of their control. But the fact is statistics quite clearly show that if it wasn’t for occupational Safety training, regulations and standards, there would be a lot of organisations going out of business through injuries and accidents at work.

We cannot escape form the fact that over 200 people are killed each year in accidents at work and over one million people are injured. It is also a statistical fact that over two million will suffer illness (mental or physical) caused by, or intensified by their work.

We all want to feel as safe as possible in our workplace environment and that our management is taking all the necessary steps to ensure all activities take place to make it as reasonably safe as is possible. The business manager has a responsibility to:

  • ensure employees are not injured or made ill by the work they do;
  • develop a positive health and safety culture, where safe and healthy working becomes second nature to everyone;
  • Continue to determine how you can manage safety in the work environment better;
  • meet your legal duty to protect the occupational health of your employees.

Health and safety training is a factor which should not be taken lightly. Much basic training can be done in-house but there is a plethora of excellent training courses which can help avoid the distress of accidents and ill health, make your employees competent specialists, and reduce the financial costs that would occur through dangerous environments.

Everyone needs training. There needs to be thriving culture so employees can understand the organisations occupational health policy, where they fit in, and how you it should be managed for everyone’s benefit. They may also need training in the specific hazards of your processes and how you expect the risks to be controlled.

NEBOSH offers a variety of Health and Safety training courses for varied working environments and levels of expertise. For those interested in following a career in in this lucrative area of work there is the NEBOSH National diploma which also opens the gateway to post graduate study.

Most health and safety training courses cover all industries, but there is sometimes a need for more specific courses that take into account the specialist needs of certain industries. The Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS), is a qualification for executives in the construction business. This is a course which traditionally is taken over a period of a week and will provide the supervisor with a license of 5 years. It needs to be re-taken after this time to refresh knowledge and ensure the candidate is aware of any changes in technology, accepted theory or policy.

Obtain Health and Safety Training in 2010

It is vital in the current climate that you ensure that your company has taken on the appropriate amount of health and safety training, with solicitors and employees only too willing to sue if they can find some form of loophole or hole in your defence.

Ever since the no win, no fee companies sprung up from America employees have been only too willing to expose flaws in a company’s lack of health and safety training standards. Obviously this isn’t a problem for people who have genuine claims against the company. But like most of the rules and regulations that exist in society today there will be certain aspects who will try to swing the rules in their favour.

I’m sure we have all meet someone in our professional career who likes to bend the rules to their advantage; you will often find that they have worked at several places and at each place they have experienced the same type of situation. To protect yourself it is important that you follow the appropriate health and safety training procedure to train your staff.

When you get involved in a legal battle it is vital that you can prove that your company has made every effort to protect and instruct your staff on ways to handle themselves around the office. Everyone seems to assume that health and safety training is limited to lifting boxes and ensuring that you don’t trip over stray wires. In actual fact there is a lot more detail that goes in to the standard health and safety course than you might initially think.

Everything around the office has the potential to be a hazard and therefore requires some form of hazard assessment. If there is a potential that a piece of equipment that someone uses on a regular basis could cause them harm then consider making up a training course or hazard assessment to run them through the potential dangers. Obviously your aim is not to stop employees who have been injured from claiming money, but simply to protect them from the dangers in the first place and avoid any negative publicity on the company through negligence.

Health and safety training can be performed by an external third party or by an internal officer who has achieved qualification from an approved body, either way make sure you and your company are covered in 2010 against any unnecessary scares or court cases.

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