News stories regularly point towards a lack of training as a contributing or sole factor for serious workplace injuries and fatalities. Just last month, an incident was reported of a lone worker being crushed by a falling vehicle. Aside from the lack of a proper risk assessment, it was also found that the staff member involved wasn’t properly trained or experienced to carry out the task in hand on a safe basis.
Of course, every responsible employer wants to protect its members of staff, and one of the best preventative measures for doing so is effective training.
Why is training so important. Put simply, because it prevents accidents caused by improper work practices or techniques, prevents incidents by defusing potentially violent situations, prevents the escalation/severity of an accident or incident by knowing how to respond, challenges complacent attitudes, creates a positive Health and Safety culture, increases staff well-being, confidence and productivity, assists employers in meeting their Duty of Care and also helps in avoiding the financial costs related to accidents and incidents.
The benefits of effective staff training, then, are far reaching and help to mitigate serious physical and financial risk. However, many organisations, and especially smaller businesses, can find lack of internal resources or knowledge gaps a challenge when it comes to facilitates appropriate safety training for staff.
Let’s now examine the four cornerstones of safety training.
Step One: Identify Training Needs
Safety training requirements vary greatly between organisations and job roles. Indeed, the need may not be immediately obvious. However, training needs should be identified early on as part of the risk assessment process and included within any lone worker policy.
Below are just some examples of training that may be required based on two risk types:
Classic Health and Safety issues
*Identifying risks and hazards
*Training required to carry out a job competently (eg handling substances, working with electricity, heavy lifting)
*Using and operating any equipment, machinery and vehicles safely
*How to respond/raise an alert if an accident occurs
People and conflict-based
*Recognising, diffusing and responding to threatening, aggressive and violent situations
*The safety value of mobile phones, duress codes, contingency planning and exit strategies and how to use them
*How to use any lone worker devices and action procedures that have been implemented by the business
Step Two: Agree Training Methods
The type of training and how it is carried out will also differ greatly depending on individual business needs and style. You may also find that different groups of employees require different types or levels of training.
For low risk environments such as office-based work, providing written information may be the only requirement necessary. For higher risk roles, you may want to consider ‘on the job’ training from an experienced colleague, online interactive training or classroom training from an external organisation or individual. There are a whole range of training programmes available to you so it’s probably helpful to do some research into the different options.
By law, you are also responsible for self-employed or contracted workers under your supervision. You must ensure that they are adequately trained in the tasks you are asking of them and fully aware of your policies as well as Health and Safety procedures.
Step Three: Include agreed training in your lone worker policy
It’s important that required training is included in your lone worker policy and that all lone workers are made aware of what’s expected of them. Other Health and Safety information should also be included such as who to contact in the case of an emergency.
As part of your policy, you could consider creating a schedule for refresher training depending on risk levels and the nature of the business.
Step Four: Implement Training
It’s important that all staff members receive the training you provide. If several staff members are unable to attend a training session, you may want to consider running it over a couple of days or appraise alternative methods for those individuals such as online or recorded training material.
For anyone carrying out potentially dangerous work alone, it may be useful to shadow the employee on the job or recreate role playing scenarios for them to react to as part of the training. For example, if your lone workers work closely with vulnerable individuals or behind closed doors, you may want to run or outsource training programmes that allow them to ‘role play’ a situation in which a client becomes aggressive.
Unfortuntely, no matter how prepared you are, incidents can and will occur. However, ensuring your staff are well prepared can help to reduce the severity of an incident.
Robust staff training also helps to demonstrate that you are adhering to lone worker and Health and Safety legislation. A guide to current Health and Safety legislation prepared by Spratt Endicott Solicitors can be accessed online at https://www.staysafeapp.com/knowledge-hub/
Helen Down is Director of StaySafe