guidance notes

Guidance Note 17 - Health and safety training

This Guidance Note gives practical information about health & safety training.

Sample templates have been included in Appendices 1, 2 & 3. If you wish to use these templates to construct your own documents, you must ensure that all references to Alcumus SafeContractor Accreditation have been removed and the final documents are clearly incorporated into your existing safety management system.

Legal obligations

A general duty for all employees to be trained as necessary to ensure their health and safety, so far as reasonably practicable, is contained in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Further requirements are contained within the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999; and many other health and safety regulations also contain specific requirements for training.


In basic terms, an employer needs to ensure that their employees are competent to safely carry out their work. While there is no specific definition of ‘competent’, there are a number of factors which can be used to demonstrate competency, including:

  • Knowledge
    Knowledge comes in many forms including specific knowledge of the industry in which the employee is working, and knowledge of the specific task to be undertaken and the risks which the work will entail.
  • Experience.
    Experience adds to knowledge as the employee is more likely to identify and understand the risks involved in the work and therefore more likely to understand why they need to adopt a specific safe system of work if they have had experience of similar situations.
  • Qualifications.
    Both practical industry qualifications and specific health and safety qualifications increase the competency of an employee.
  • Training.
    The development of competence is an on-going process through continual professional development (CPD) or life-long learning. CPD can cover a range of issues such as keeping upto-date with legislative requirements and industry best practice, learning new key skills, and undertaking relevant refresher training for both industry practical training and health and safety specific training.

CPD can be developed in a number of ways, such as self-led reading and research, an inhouse planned programme of seminars or tool box talks, mentoring, formal skills-based training programmes such as NVQs, and any form of training from third party providers which can be classed-based, on site assessments, or e-learning etc.

The benefits of an effective training programme

Developing and implementing an effective training programme provides a number of benefits, such as:

  • Helping ensure that employees are competent.
  • It aids in demonstrating competency and the implementation of an effective health and safety management system, which is the key focus of health and safety prequalification assessment and part of tender applications.
  • Helping reduce accidents thus avoiding much of the distress that both the business and the employee can suffer following accidents and ill health.
  • Reducing the additional costs that result from accidents and ill health.
  • Trained staff will be more efficient and effective and can contribute to the economic success of a business.

Developing an effective training programme

Making the training programme effective requires the presence of three necessary conditions:

  • Commitment, support and interest of management.
  • Finance and organisation to provide the opportunity for learning to take place.
  • Availability of suitable expertise in the subject.

It is also important that the management team demonstrates support by setting a good example: it is pointless to train workers to obey safety rules if supervisors are known to ignore them.

The development of the training programme needs to contain the following steps:

  • Training needs analysis
    Training needs are related to the organisation, the job and the individual. It is not only about formal courses with exams. Training needs can be identified by looking explicitly at the health and safety elements in specific jobs or tasks, and can be enhanced by examination of accident and ill-health records, observation of and discussion with employees, and review of risk assessments. Training must also take place when job conditions change and result in exposure to new or increased risks. It must be repeated periodically where appropriate, and be adapted to any new circumstances. Health and safety training should not take place outside working hours. For management positions the analysis also needs to consider the health and safety supervisory elements.
    The organisation needs to take into account the requirements of any contractors, agency staff, and young persons in its assessment of job-specific training needs.
  • Delivering training
    It is important that those involved in providing the training are competent to do so. Trainers may be used from within the organisation, or from an external source. They must not only be knowledgeable in their subject, but also be able to answer questions on the practical application of the working environment, which includes a familiarity with organisational work practices, procedures and rules.

There are five types of health and safety training:

1. New employee induction

New employees are known to be more likely to have accidents than those who have had time to recognise the hazards of the workplace. Formal health and safety training must form part of the new employee’s induction programme. Training must also take place when job conditions change and result in exposure to new or increased risks.

The key points that should be covered in induction training are:

  • Discussion of the organisation’s overall health and safety policy and safety philosophy.
  • National, local and organisational health and safety rules or regulations, and how those violating them may be subject to disciplinary action.
  • The health and safety role of supervisors and other members of the management team includes taking action on and giving advice on potential problems, and how they are to be consulted if there are any questions on health and safety.
  • Where required, the wearing or use of personal protective equipment is not a matter for individual choice or decision – its use is a condition of employment.
  • In the event of any injury, no matter how trivial, employees must seek first aid or medical treatment and notify their supervisor immediately. They must report any adverse physical symptoms immediately.
  • Fire and emergency procedures.
  • Welfare and amenity provision.
  • Location of first aiders and first aid materials.
  • Arrangements for consultation with employees on health and safety issues.

An example of an induction training checklist is attached at the end of this document (Appendices 1 & 2).

2. Job-specific training

Job-specific training should include skills training, explanations of applicable safety regulations and organisational rules, and a demonstration of the use of any personal protective equipment that may be required including correct fit and cleaning. There should be a review of applicable emergency and evacuation procedures. The use of risk assessment findings is a valuable training aid. This training may be carried out by a supervisor or designated trainer. It should be properly planned and organised by the use of appropriate checklists. Documenting a record of training is considered good practice and may be required to demonstrate compliance should an enforcement officer visit. An example of an individual training record is available at the end of this document (Appendix 3).

3. Supervisory and management training

Supervisory and management training at all levels is necessary to ensure that responsibilities are known and the organisation’s policy is carried out. It is not sufficient to simply tell them that they are responsible for health and safety; they must be told the extent of their responsibilities and how they can discharge them. Key points to cover in the training of supervisors and managers are:

  • The organisation’s safety policy and safety philosophy.
  • Legal framework and duties of the organisation, its management and the workforce.
  • Specific laws and rules applicable to the workplace.
  • Safety inspection techniques and requirements.
  • Causation and consequences of accidents and their reporting, recording and investigation.
  • Basic accident prevention techniques.
  • Disciplinary procedure and application.
  • Control of hazards in the workplace and use of personal protective equipment.
  • Techniques for motivating employees to recognise and respond to organisational goals in health and safety.

Supervisors and managers should attend health and safety courses as appropriate to their position. These may be on a specific topic, such as Risk Assessment, or of a more general nature such as Managing Safely. Selected staff may need to attend professional training courses leading to a formal qualification, such as those administered by the National Examinations Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH). This is of particular relevance for the person(s) designated as health and safety adviser(s) in the organisation.

4. Specialised training

Specialised health and safety training will be required to cover some legislative requirements and aid the safe running of the organisation, for example:

  • First aid, taking into account the nature of the work and the size of the organisation.
  • Driver certification for a particular class of vehicle, e.g. tankers carrying hazardous substances.
  • Use of fire-fighting appliances such as extinguishers.
  • Use and maintenance of forklift trucks etc.

5. Reinforced or refresher training

Reinforcement or refresher training will be required at appropriate intervals. The frequency of refresher will depend on the following factors:

  • Legal requirements, such as annual refresher training for licensed asbestos removal operatives.
  • Industry-recognised acceptable refresher dates, for example the use of chainsaws or forklift trucks requires re-testing every 3-5 years.
  • The outcome of observation of the workforce, i.e. the result of a training needs assessment.
  • The complexity of the information to be held by the employee.
  • The amount of practice required.
  • The opportunity for practice in the normal working requirement.
  • The likely severity of the consequences of behaviour that does not match training objectives.

Refresher training is vital in safety critical areas, such as response to plant emergencies, unexpected release of asbestos etc.



  • Identify training needs (i.e. what).
  • Decide upon a training strategy.
  • Set training priorities (i.e. when).
  • Choose training methods and resources(i.e. how and who).
  • Deliver the training.
  • Record the training.
  • Check/evaluate the training to ensure it has been effective.
  • Deliver refresher training when and where necessary.

Further Guidance