Health and safety training is one of the most effective, but certainly one of the most underestimated, activities for the prevention of work accidents and occupational diseases. During the training, the employee acquires knowledge on how to work safely, and the employer has made a great contribution to creating a safe work environment.

What is health and safety training?

Health and safety training is the raising of the awareness about the measures taken by the company or institution that contribute to the safety and health of the employees. In the course of supervision, the employee is introduced to the company’s work organization rules, occupational health and safety requirements and legislation. The theoretical part of safety instruction should be followed by practical training. The purpose of the training is to perform safe work practices and make sure that the employee is ready for independent work.

Safety requirements are found in safety instructions. They should include an introduction to the hazards of a particular device or work process and measures to prevent those hazards, including mandatory personal protective equipment.

Health and safety training is considered to be a rather tedious and time-consuming activity at both the employer and employee level, but in reality it is one of the most important activities in occupational health and safety. 

The main accidents happen as a result of the employee’s actions, and the first thing that will be investigated is – how aware was the employee of the danger that caused the accident and did he have enough knowledge to prevent it?

Inadequate guidance is one of the main causes of the vast majority of accidents at work.

If the employee is given 50-100 pages to read in 1-2 hours, it is quite clear that it was not possible to acquire all the material during that time. As a result, accidents are easy to come by and the main responsibility lies with the employer. The employer must plan the supervision in such a way that it is easy for the employee to acquire it.

How to build a good and effective health and safety training process?

1) The instructional material is divided into bites

It is a good idea to start by looking at how much material the employee needs to look at and then decide whether the training should be done all at once or whether it could be broken down into smaller ‘bites’. The employee deals with one “bite” at a time, and each theory “bite” is followed by a practical “bite” and a few weeks of independent work. After you can then move on to the next “bite”.

2) Divide instruction between different competent people

Another thing to think about is who is conducting the coaching? Is it one specific person, such as a work environment specialist, or are it several people? For example, a work environment specialist conducts general instruction, which includes work organization rules, an introductory instruction, and an office worker safety instruction, and more specific instructions are distributed to department heads, foremen, or other competent personnel. The principle could be that if the employee has specific questions, the supervisor will be able to answer them immediately.

3) The instruction should be varied

The third topic is how to conduct the training? It could now be clear that simply feeding the papers to the employee and taking the signature afterwards is not a sufficient protection for the employer. More thought needs to be given to how the employee acquires the material in the best way? Here it is recommended to use different ways to convey information to the employee – viewing, listening, practically doing it. Here you can use various tools that make health and safety training more exciting and effective.

Finally, it is worth remembering that although the purpose of the training is to protect the worker against accidents at work and occupational diseases and the employers against possible liability, this does not mean that it should be a tedious formality. We want the employee to really remember the instructional material, and a well-thought-out health and safety training process will definitely help.