Health and safety in training and practice – part of the Health & Safety supplement

There are both economic and humanitarian benefits for a company in good health and safety training writes Tim Walsh of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health.

Accident rates are one third lower for those companies which employ health and safety professionals to train staff on how to stay healthy and safe at work.

It’s a finding from research commissioned by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and it underlines just how vital this guidance is for businesses and the people they employ, particular those in high hazard industries.

Employers in manufacturing are legally obliged to look after the safety and wellbeing of their employees at work – but this should not be why they have health and safety policies and training programmes in place, says IOSH. There are business advantages in providing protective advice to staff – as well as actually employing health and safety managers or consultants – which are as important as ticking a box to meet a legal obligation.

“Successful companies want to demonstrate that they care for their workers, and that they take the well-being of their staff, clients and contractors seriously,” said the Institution’s commercial affairs director, Caroline Holden. “Training staff to be safe in the workplace – to recognise where there are potential hazards and come up with solutions – is a very important way for an employer to demonstrate that its values and put simply that it doesn’t want people to be hurt if it can possibly be avoided.” IOSH offers a suite of health and safety training programmes, with courses for both managers and their staff. Managing Safely is designed to get managers up to speed on the practical actions they need to take to handle health and safety in their teams. Working Safely is a course for people at any level, in any sector, who need a grounding in the essentials of health and safety.

And the Institution also approves courses run by independent trainers, through its tailored course approval service. Richard Greaves, a chartered member of IOSH, runs courses for employers in manufacturing.

“In business there is always the challenge to get the job done, but in the safest way,” he says.

“Manufacturing is no different, but there is often higher risk in this sector than most due to maintenance and machinery safety issues which are ongoing.

“Training plays an essential part in ensuring the safest way is understood, and the understanding of managers and supervisors is fundamental if they are to develop and lead a positive safety culture. When we are asked to deliver training, a clear understanding of each individual company is essential to any successful training programme. Spending time with the client pays dividends and leads to an interactive, fun and interesting training session and there are clear business benefits to doing it right.” Greaves says gone are the days of reading off slides and dosing everybody up with caffeine to get through the sessions. “In our experience targeted, specific training such an IOSH Managing Safely helps to achieve results in any forward-thinking company. In the last few months, we have been asked by two bluechip organisations to attend awards events as a direct result of training programmes.

“The programmes resulted in greater understanding and ownership of health and safety, which led directly to improved performance and lower incident and accidents, in fact no reportable accidents for 12 months in one of the cases. The figures speak for themselves. Without the investment in quality training we begin to rely on luck and are then open to indifference and complacency.”

For further information please visit: www.iosh.co.uk/training