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Lorna Bleyswyck CMIOSH, PGCE

Overcoming the Challenges of Training your Staff in Health & Safety

Getting your managers trained in their health and safety responsibilities is fundamental for the success of any business regardless of its size, industry sector and location. Effective training can transform how well a company operates and will bring benefits beyond what is covered in the course. The business benefits of successful training will create a culture promoting safety awareness leading to less disruption to operations, compliance and a happier and motivated workforce.

February 2019

Getting your managers trained in their health and safety responsibilities is fundamental for the success of any business regardless of its size, industry sector and location. Effective training can transform how well a company operates and will bring benefits beyond what is covered in the course. The business benefits of successful training will create a culture promoting safety awareness leading to less disruption to operations, compliance and a happier and motivated workforce.

If you are nodding in full agreement to these principles but wondering exactly how to successfully train your managers and team leaders and overcome the typical challenges of availability, commitment, motivation, to name a few, consider some of the following solutions.

Overcoming the challenges of getting staff trained

Motivation

What’s the point of doing a health and safety course? This must be one of the most common complaints that managers have to hear from staff that need to do a course. If you have to get a group of staff trained in IOSH Managing Safely for example, gaining their buy-in on the value of the course is essential. If they recognise that by completing the course, it can positively influence how they work and lead to improved performance and less time lost to incidents etc., this should help motivate them to complete the course. On an individual basis, completing a course will help them develop professionally.

Relevance

Learning that is truly relevant for the day-to-day work is essential that employees recognise this is the case, if you expect them to sit a course. Including your company health and safety policies, risk assessments, procedures etc. within the course if appropriate, provides a meaningful opportunity to use the learning in context and make it directly relevant. Bringing the learning concepts to life using real workplace examples and materials can transform any learning experience to inspire confidence in people to know how to do work well and effectively.

Recognition of training benefits

More and more companies understand and value the benefits of effective training particularly internationally respected IOSH and NEBOSH brands. For companies with staff IOSH or NEBOSH certified, it demonstrates a commitment to good safety practice enhancing the reputation among all the stakeholders – essential for good business.

Staff undertaking training should feel more motivated in their jobs with the opportunity to develop their skill set to work smarter and perform better in their roles, which their line managers and the company will value. They will feel empowered to know how to react to certain scenarios resulting in staff becoming more proactive and safety aware.

Fitting training into work commitments

This is probably one of the biggest complaints when staff are told they need to complete a health and safety course – how am I going to fit the training in? Even when everyone is motivated to develop their knowledge and skills we all know the practicalities of losing 3 working days for example to attend an IOSH Managing Safely class-based course, can put people under great pressure. Workloads will increase and productivity can suffer if your workforce has to attend class-based training.

Similarly, if you have a group of managers and team leaders who need to get certified in IOSH Managing Safely but they are located at different sites or work different shift patterns, getting them all trained could potentially be quite a challenge and have higher than budgeted cost and time implications.

Flexible learning solution

There are flexible solutions to overcome time and location barriers for training a team. Online learning ultimately offers convenience. Individuals can choose when they learn to suit their work and family commitments. Perfect! However, we know from experience of managers responsible for getting teams trained and certified, there is the concern that course completion may be the real challenge. Leaving staff members to work independently through their online IOSH Managing Safely course could mean a lot of checking up on individuals’ progress especially if they lack focus and self-discipline to study.

Online combined with class learning 

Have you considered a combination of online and class-based learning for staff? Organising a blend of flexible online learning combined with the structure and interaction of class-based learning is an ideal solution used by companies. When you are planning training, it is worth investigating the benefits of a combined class and online learning for numbers of staff. Identifying the company and teams’ training needs will determine a suitable programme to make sure everyone successfully completes the course and is confident to use the learning back in their job.

IOSH Managing Safely online and class combination

For a blend of online and class learning for let’s say an IOSH Managing Safely course, typically, the group of staff will follow an agreed rolling programme to work through and complete this course, for example, in 12 weeks that is tutor-led. They will use the online course but also benefit from a tutor to guide them through all the elements with webinars and/ or one or half-day face-to-face session(s) so they can interact as a group and ask and answer questions. The tutor is also available throughout the programme to support everybody remotely. A number of multi-nationals have adopted this combined OnlinePlus+ approach to getting staff trained within a structured time frame and with all the employees enjoying the benefits of flexible learning to suit their pace and commitments.

Adequate health and safety training is not only employers' legal duty but also a huge contributory factor to a company’s success. Therefore, whatever obstacles and challenges you face when getting staff successfully trained on a health and safety course, finding the right course and its delivery is fundamental.

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