Imagine this: You’ve been working at an organisation that offers insulation services for the past six months. Things are going well with some challenges, but you believe that with time and practice, everything will improve.
Today, someone has called you to a site to fix a malfunctioning cooling unit. To your surprise, the cooling unit is a bit higher than expected, so you reach for a ladder to help you get closer. Once the ladder is in place, you venture upwards rung by rung with your toolbox.
At the top, you place your toolbox on a nearby platform and begin to investigate. After about 30 minutes you’re just about done, with a few final tweaks. As you reach for one of your tools, the ladder suddenly slips, and you find yourself falling to the ground.
How could you have prevented this incident from happening? Is it entirely your fault? Safety training is essential and mandatory at the workplace to prevent incidents like the one above from happening. For instance, in the context of the situation above, the worker should have been trained to make sure the ladder was secured before they started working. It’s both the employer’s responsibility to provide and the employee’s responsibility to participate in health and safety training to avoid such situations.
A similar incident occurred in the United Kingdom which cost the company £11,690 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The worker who fell three meters sustained permanent head and ear injuries and had to stay in the hospital for four days.
So, why is safety training important? Read on to explore why safety training is a fundamental part of any safe workplace, with benefits like:
- fewer accidents and incidents
- compliance with industry regulations and law
- a stronger safety culture
1. Fewer accidents and incidents
According to the International Labour Organisation, there are 340 million occupational accidents every year and 6,000 deaths a day. 2.3 million people around the globe suffer an illness or fall victim to work-related accidents annually. These statistics are shocking, to say the least. One way to reduce these numbers is to provide the necessary safety training.
Once workers are trained to conduct their jobs safely, which includes recognising the hazards and risks associated with their duties and ways to control these hazards, they will be able to protect themselves from potential harm more efficiently.
So, who needs safety training? Every supervisor, employee and contractor at the workplace is required to take health and safety training. This must be provided by the employer in the form of a safety training course, online safety training, and/or on-site training, depending on the type of hazardous work.
It’s vital not to forget to train your contractors as they are also working on your site. Being unfamiliar with your workplace puts them at a huge disadvantage, as they are not aware of your processes and procedures. Take the time to educate them on how things are done and be sure to include them in all training.
It’s also important to make sure this knowledge is always reinforced. Just how often should safety training be refreshed? We recommend doing this annually.
2. Compliance with industry regulations
It goes without saying that safety training is a must in any organisation, regardless of industry or size. Whether you’re in the United Kingdom, Europe, or North America, there are regulations which you must follow in order to be compliant.
In the UK, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 makes it mandatory to provide resources and steps to protect the health and safety of employees. If you are in the United States, you must adhere to the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) regulations. Included within these regulations is the fact that employees have completed training to conduct their job tasks safely.
If organisations violate these regulations, they can face hefty penalties and fines, as seen in the example above, and even prosecution. This can add huge added costs to businesses and ruin their reputation in the market.
3. A stronger safety culture
Safety training and awareness programs make employees better at identifying dangers, risks, and problems, creating a safer work environment. A safe workplace is everyone’s responsibility and employees play a key role in this. When you empower your employees and help them realise they have the power to make a difference, it’ll make them more invested in protecting their fellow coworkers from harm.
A stronger safety culture will also help lead to greater employee retention and less turnover. When the job comes before the employee’s safety, they will have no reason to stay. When you value employees' well-being, they will be more likely to stay long-term with your organisation. This will lead to greater productivity and efficiency overall.
A strong safety culture will also create a better reputation for your organisation in your industry, creating more business. People want to work with companies that have a strong safety record. This means the business is secure and unlikely to experience unexpected risks in the future.
Your safety training resource
Now that you know the importance of safety training, it’s time to consider the importance of a training management system. Using paper or Excel spreadsheets to keep track of which employee completed what training on which date can be extremely difficult. You will inevitably lose things, and it will become a challenge to keep up with all training expiry dates.
So, what’s the solution? A digital learning management system helps you manage employee training, expiry dates, and online safety courses in one place. Find out more about the legal impact of training mismanagement, what it could cost your organisation, and much more in our new guide: Your Guide to Training Management (and the cost of getting it wrong).