Health and safety trainings can be defined as the formal and planned process to acquire knowledge and skills in a relatively safe environment. Training is essential for the effective management of health and safety in workplaces. The employer’s responsibility is to provide Health and safety trainings to the workers and staff for safe work practices. Training is a key component of competence.
The ILO financed by the United States Department of Labor, pursues the main components of the health and safety management system such as vocational training programs, raising awareness about the vulnerability of young workers and strengthening the technical capacities of workers to better identify the occupational risks to which workers are exposed in their work.
This blog has been developed to help you, deliver basic occupational Health and safety trainings that is important for everyone in the workplace from top managers to unskilled workers (HSE). The objective of this blog is to describe the training processes, practical tools and suggestions that facilitate the health and safety training program to train workers in any workplace where basic Health and safety trainings and information are required.
The ILO provides guidelines and suggestions regarding Health and safety trainings and aims to transversally approach the prevention of risks at work, and the protection and promotion of health in different areas, considering the characteristics of the target audience.
Once the worker has received the appropriate Health and safety trainings, he will understand:
- The dangers and risks are inherent in your work.
- The correct rules and precautions to apply.
- Foreseeable emergencies and the actions to be taken, should these events occur.
- Limitations and restrictions that apply to your job.
- Health and safety responsibilities.
- Who to contact with any problems.
Health and safety trainings opportunity
Health and safety trainings and information in occupational risk prevention should provide to everyone including directors and managers as a legal requirement. Health and safety trainings should be aimed at achieving the greatest active participation in preventive activities, and according to the responsibilities of each person, it should train for the perception of risks and encourage the assumption of one’s responsibilities.
Various circumstances require the provision of Health and safety trainings:
- New Worker: Induction training takes place when workers join an organization. Since a worker is at risk in a workplace from their first day on the job, it makes sense to deliver induction Health and safety trainings that shall be given to new workers for information such as emergency procedures, firefighting, first aid facilities, PPE etc.
The topic focuses on induction training
Typical content of a general beginner’s induction Health and safety trainings:
- The organization’s health and safety policy.
- Fire and other emergency procedures.
- First aid facilities and personnel.
- The location of welfare facilities.
- Safe movement in the workplace.
- Accident and incident reporting procedures.
- Consultation arrangements for workers.
- General safety rules, such as no-smoking areas.
- Personal protective equipment requirements.
- Introduction to permit systems.
- Introduction to the risk assessment or job safety analysis system.
- Responsibilities of workers, foreman, and supervisor.
- Disciplinary action procedures
- Job Change: Additional training is needed when a worker’s job changes in such a way that they are exposed to new dangers and risks. For example, a health worker whose job changes from hospital to providing care in clients’ own homes will need additional training, not on how to provide care, as the service provided has not changed, but in solo work. They will be at much greater risk when they go out into the community to do home visits instead of working in the hospital.
- Process change: When the way work is done changes, workers can be exposed to new hazards and risks that require additional training. For example, when a different product is produced on an existing part of the machinery, this can create new hazards that require training in new safe operating procedures.
- New technology: The massive introduction of desktop computers, screens and keyboards in the 1990s is an example of new technology introducing new risks in workplaces. This has been further aggravated by the widespread introduction and use of mobile phones and tablets, which bring with them additional risks and complications for the safe use of IT.
- New Legislation: Changes in the law governing a particular health and safety issue often create a need for training workers about the implications of the new legislation, perhaps because labour practices have to change or simply. It is important to keep records of any training provided, not only to record who has been trained, but
Health and safety trainings examples
If we change the perspective, we will make occupational Health and safety trainings something attractive, enjoyable and fun. By applying innovative techniques such as Gamy fiction, Storytelling, Serious Games, Recreational Activities, and among others.
The training program is different for each company, it depends on the priority risks, the activities carried out in the workplace, the results of previous interventions, the programs designed in the company and other factors. This example of an OSH training program shows the structure of a program and some examples of justification for some ideas of selected topics for Health and safety trainings such as:
- Introduction to occupational health and safety: this is an introduction to the basics of occupational health and safety trainings.
- Risk and consequence: how different occupational hazards can harm the body and some of the different types of consequences they can have on the worker’s health. Explanation of different methods to combat different types of risks and hazards in the workplace.
- Noise and vibration in the workplace: describe some of the sources of workplace noise and vibration, the health effects of noise exposure, and how to prevent workplace noise and vibration.
- Chemicals in the workplace: look at the different material forms in which chemicals can appear, the types of consequences they can have on workers, and methods to control exposure to chemicals in the workplace. The workplace, including recommended safe working practices.
- Legislation and its application: the use of different ways of health and safety legislation to protect workers and some of the problems that the application of such legislation poses are considered.
- Ergonomics: define ergonomics, explains its importance to health and safety and suggest ways that workers can avoid ergonomic problems and try to eliminate existing ones.
Why do health and safety training
The Law on Safety and Health at Work and its regulations dictate that it is the responsibility of employers to train their workers in preventive and occupational risk reduction matters, and must carry out, according to law, a minimum of 4 Health and safety trainings sessions per year, allowing Employers and workers recognize the risks that could arise.
The employer must train their workers according to their position and work environment. This means that it is not only enough for the employer to train their workers on the dangers and risks inherent in their job, but also all those that occur in the environment in which they will perform their duties.
Any professional who is directly linked to occupational health and safety, such as a risk prevention specialist, occupational doctor, organizational psychologist, trainer, consultant or supervisor. Or indirectly in the area of human resources, logistics or acquisitions, maintenance, operations or as a contractor necessarily due to a legal requirement and proactively from the point of view of risk prevention.
The safety expert demonstrates knowledge and practices of the values of safety, achieved through training and familiarization with the concepts, legal regulations and tools of the implementation of an occupational health and safety management system.
Health and safety training for employees
The Health and safety trainings contents must be formulated according to the functions entrusted to each one:
- The training aimed at employers should especially insist on preventive management.
- The one given to the prevention delegates must integrate technical and representative content, developing dynamics of participation of the company’s workers and staff as a whole and its union representatives.
- The one designed for workers should specifically contemplate the identification of risks.
Training on environmental impact must be integrated with occupational risk prevention, consistent with a comprehensive vision of occupational and environmental risk prevention and people’s health. The effectiveness of the training must be evaluated, and the contents must be reviewed and updated. The training actions must be repeated periodically.
Training cannot be limited to unidirectional imparting prescriptions or rules of behaviour that often end up blaming the worker himself and hiding the real problem – which is none other than the existence of risks originating from inadequate working conditions.
Health and safety training plan
Give foremen and workers regular chances to discuss their ideas on how to improve health and safety conditions in their workplace. Recognize that workers, foremen and supervisors have important contributions to make to the whole class based on their personal experience and accept that they are bearers of valuable information.
Strive to use as few of the training topics as possible. It is recommended to divide the content of the training into logical sessions, creating activities and stimulating debates as a way to teach the notions. It is best not to read the text word for word to the participants.
Here are some suggestions for organizing a training program. In deciding how to organize the training. Trainers should consider factors such as the time participants have available and the specific needs of the participants.
Take a ten-minute break after each hour of training. Not only the participants but the trainer too. So, for example, a three-hour session might consist of the following:
- 50 minutes of class
- A 10-minute break
- 50 minutes of class
- 10-minute break
- 45-minute class
- 15 minutes for questions/answers/discussion.
How to organize the classroom
The purpose of the Health and safety training classroom is to extract the maximum possible benefit from the contact and communication between the participants. When setting up the classroom, keep the following in mind:
- Eye contact: can everyone see each other easily?
- Listen: can everyone hear what is being said?
- Movable chairs and tables so that participants could feel comfortable.
- Sufficient light and ventilation.
- A flipchart (or wide sheets of paper pinned to the walls) and markers or blackboard and chalk.
- A slide projector and screen plus slides about different workplaces.
However, it is perfectly possible to carry out a training session without meeting all the above “ideal conditions”. When organizing the room, make sure that everyone can see and hear each other easily. One way to do this is to arrange people in a circle.
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Always decide how much time you will take for discussions and add it to the overall time of the program. Put a time limit on exercises and discussions. Let participants know in advance how much time they will have to try to accomplish the objectives of an exercise or discussion.
It is recommended to take 15 minutes at the end of each session for questions and answers or discussion. If you plan a class that will start in the morning and last more than four hours, you will have to have break time for lunch. A minimum of one hour is recommended, but you can best decide what is needed based on local customs.
Deliver priority issues first
It is recommended to deliver the Health and safety trainings session according to their priority, that is, teach the most important issues first. If you don’t have enough time to do this, or if the target group has very specific needs, choose only the highest-priority topics. For example, if noise is not a problem in most workplaces, you may decide to skip Noise in the training topics.
When preparing the Health and safety trainings, decide what pedagogical techniques you will use to present the essential concepts. Include in each lesson outline the objectives, introduction, core text, points to remember, summary, and exercises. If you can, use visual aids and practical examples wherever possible to reinforce the main points of your presentation.
Use a checklist
A checklist is a useful tool for participants to assess general or specific health and safety conditions in their workplaces. You can provide the checklists or help participants make their own, individually or in groups. Participants can take the checklists to their respective workplaces and apply them. If there is enough time, ask later in the course for an explanation of what has been done with the checklists.
By completing an action plan form, participants reflect and develop a strategy to take positive action to change a dangerous or unhealthy situation in the workplace. If participants are completing the action plan forms as a group, it is best to group participants from the same or a similar workplace if possible. You can provide the outline of the action plan form and ask participants to answer the questions, or ask them to create their form.
Health and safety training requirements
Use discussions successfully and answer some of the questions you may have, such as what to do if everyone falls silent. Silence can also indicate that something is wrong, but there will probably be other signs of it that you will understand in each case.
Allow as many participants as possible to join the discussion. Try to see who doesn’t speak. Come up with ways to encourage those people to intervene without putting pressure on them. For example, you can ask, “Is there anyone who hasn’t spoken and wants to say something?” Ask a specific question if you know the student can answer.
Don’t, or let anyone else, dominate the discussion with your own opinions. The role of the trainer is partly to chair and guide the discussions in a tone of confidence. Encourage participants to listen to each other and to listen to you. Watch how the discussion is progressing and ask questions of the group if the discussion gets bogged down or begins to lose interest.
By dividing the course into small groups, it is possible for people to speak in the time available and for less confident participants to speak more. Clearly define for yourself and the participants the topic of the discussion. Be flexible, but don’t let the discussion stray too far from it. If new ideas arise that require a separate discussion, make a note of them and address them later.
It is important to keep to the time allotted, and it is up to you to end the discussions when you think it is appropriate to do so. Use their ideas and information to move the discussion forward and help clarify issues. Draw on your knowledge to encourage discussion among participants.
- Call participants by name and encourage others to do the same. Thus, the group will relax and the participants will have more mutual trust.
- Listen carefully to what the participants say. Don’t assume it will be what you expect them to say. Focus on what is happening, not what you thought was going to happen.
- Sometimes ask a participant to lead or chair the discussion.
If you are going to use discussion as a teaching method, leave plenty of time to be able to do it seriously. Discussion should be a key element of an occupational health and safety trainings program, not something insignificant.
Group reflection is a technique used to encourage participants to generate multiple ideas, as in such situations there are no ‘wrong’ ideas and no idea should be criticized. To start a group brainstorming activity, state the problem or issue at hand. Then ask the participants to present their ideas about it.
Participants can expose their ideas randomly or write them on a piece of paper. Someone (you or one of the participants in the class) writes the ideas on a flipchart (or wide sheet of paper) or a blackboard for everyone to see. When no one can come up with any ideas, ask if anyone wants to add anything else. If no one says anything else, the activity is over. Summarize and discuss all the grouped ideas.
Draw a map of your workplace
Risk mapping can be a small group or individual activity. In this activity, participants draw a floor plan of the workplace where they work, indicating whether specific hazards can be located. Next, they analyze the different plans together. Then the participants develop strategies to deal with a risk that they consider to be a priority problem.
It is recommended to address only one priority problem at a time with the corresponding action plan developed as it can be overwhelming to address multiple risks at once.
Small group activity
Small group activity is one of the main pedagogical methods used in Health and safety trainings. In this section, you will find some answers to the most frequently asked questions about working with small groups.
Experience shows that three or four participants are the maximum number for a small group if it is to work effectively. If the group is larger, it usually breaks up into subgroups of two or three people. In groups with more than four participants, people also find it easier to “move on” for discussions.
Sometimes it is decided to ask the participants to work in pairs. This working method can be very useful in activities that require close attention, such as preparing a short speech.
What is role play?
It is a learner-centred teaching method that can elicit considerable activity and interaction among Health and safety trainings participants. Essentially, course participants are asked to play a role in a concrete situation in the workplace. The types of representation most commonly used in the training of workers in occupational health and safety are:
The script of a role-play and the assignment of the roles will depend on the type of exercise that is carried out. For example, an interview exercise can be organized using groups of three people:
Within the preparations for the role play, it is important to group the participants who are assigned the same role, i.e. all managers, all health and safety personnel, etc. So that they can exchange ideas about how to assume their role and clarify everything about which they have any doubts. In this way, your work is easier, since it takes less time to inform three managers together than each one of them separately.
Evaluation is not simply something the trainer does when he asks the course participants what they think about how the Health and safety trainings went. As a basic principle, the evaluation should involve the trainer and the participants. In the same way that the training must have been based on group work, active participation and the intervention of all, the evaluation must be a collective process.
By evaluation, it is understood that, collectively and individually, everyone reflects on the training in which they have participated together. They ask questions about its relevance, what has been achieved with it, its weaknesses and its strengths. Thus, the assessment takes place as the training progresses, as participants are expected to learn and develop from the first to the last session.
Evaluation should be a joint responsibility of the trainer and the participants. Often, it takes place in one’s mind, and this form of reflection should be encouraged.