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According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 1.4 million working people suffered from a work-related illness and 147 workers were killed at work in 2018/19. Around 28.2 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury, incurring an estimated £15 billion to the cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions.

Preventing accidents and ill health caused by work is a key priority for everyone at work. As the owner or manager of a business you know that competent employees are valuable.

What does the law say?

The Health and Safety At Work etc. Act 1974, requires that you provide whatever information, instruction and training is needed to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of your employees.

Providing health and safety information and training helps to

  • ensure your 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
  • find out how you could manage health and safety better
  • meet your legal duty to protect the health and safety of your employees

Effective training

  • will contribute towards making your employees competent in health and safety
  • can help your business avoid the distress that accidents and ill health cause
  • can help you avoid the financial costs of accidents and occupational ill health. Don’t forget that your insurance doesn’t cover all these costs. Damaged products, lost production and demotivated staff can all result

Who need health and safety training?

You do! Whether you are an employer or self employed, are you sure that you’re up to date with how to identify the hazards and control the risks from your work? Do you know how to get help – from your trade association, your local Chamber of Commerce, or your health and safety enforcing authority? Do you know what you have to do about consulting your employees, or their representatives, on health and safety issues? If not, you would benefit from some training.

Your managers and supervisors do! If you employ managers or supervisors they will certainly need some training. They need to know what you expect from them in terms of health and safety, and how you expect them to deliver. They need to understand your health and safety policy, where they fit in, and how you want health and safety managed. They may also need training in the specific hazards of your processes and how you expect the risks to be controlled.

Your employees do! Everyone who works for you, including self employed people, needs to know how to work safely and without risks to health. Like your supervisors, they need to know about your health and safety policy, your arrangements for implementing it, and the part they play. They also need to know how they can raise any health and safety concerns with you.

You should:

  • take into account the capabilities, training, knowledge and experience of workers
  • ensure that the demands of the job do not exceed their ability to carry out their work without risk to themselves and others
  • new recruits need basic induction training into how to work safely, including arrangements for first aid, fire and evacuation
  • people changing jobs or taking on extra responsibilities need to know about any new health and safety implications
  • young employees are particularly vulnerable to accidents and you need to pay particular attention to their needs, so their training should be a priority. It is also important that new, inexperienced or young employees are adequately supervised
  • some people's skills may need updating by refresher training

Your risk assessment should identify any further specific training needs.

How can I do it?

Providing training needn't be a great burden, but you do need to think ahead and prioritise. You may have appointed somebody to give you 'competent assistance' and they should be able to help. Try the following five step approach:

  1. Decide what training your organisation needs
  2. Decide your training priorities
  3. Choose your training methods and resources
  4. Deliver the training
  5. Check that the training has worked

What about the self employed?

If someone working under your control and direction is treated as self employed for tax and national insurance purposes, they may nevertheless be treated as your employee for health and safety purposes. Thus, you may need to take appropriate action to protect them. If you do not wish to employ workers on this basis, you should seek legal advice. Ultimately, each case can only be decided on its own merits by a court of law.

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