Back to Basics: Health and safety training

Related tags Training Skill Employment Occupational safety and health

Too frequently accidents occur because pub staff aren't properly trained. There are many reasons for this. They may have been recruited as...

Too frequently accidents occur because pub staff aren't properly trained.

There are many reasons for this. They may have been recruited as 'experienced' employees or already professionally trained, so further training is not deemed necessary by their employer. Or staff may have been trained when they started, but they will be in need of refresher training if it is a long time since their induction.

There could be a cost issue or it may simply be that employers are prepared to take a risk with their staff and their safety.

But if staff are adequately trained it can not only avoid the financial costs of an accident but improve the motivation of your people and as a result, your productivity and profit.

What is adequate training?

The starting point for planning your health and safety training is the risk assessment.

The risk area for training needs to be identified. When a judge considers whether training has been adequate he or she will examine the risk assessment to decide whether what you have done has been suitable and sufficient.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 state 'every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of employees'. Under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957, you must also take reasonable care to ensure visitors are safe. That, too, means identifying any hazard so it can be removed.

It may not be any good to say you were unaware of a particular hazard. An employer ought to know what he would have gathered if he had carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment. There is a further duty to review the assessment if there have been significant changes to the task or to the pub.

Adequate training is what makes up any shortfall between a person's competence and what they require to carry out their work. So the main step is to consider the knowledge and skills required for the job and then take into account the employee's current skills and abilities.

Training to close the gap could be positive or negative. You may need to teach people how to do something or how not to do it - for example, put warning signs in place where drink has been spilled on the floor, or don't put the glasses on that shelf as there is a risk they could fall.

When considering what training might be necessary you also need to take account of whether an employee works under the supervision of a competent person or works alone. Junior staff often lack an awareness of risks due to immaturity and inexperience. Those with health difficulties or disabilities must be assessed and trained as appropriate, taking those difficulties into account.

What method of training is the most effective?

The key is to choose the one which works best for the task. For manual handling training, for instance, it may be appropriate to show a video on lifting techniques followed by a question-and-answer session to ensure employees have understood it.

Keep training simple and informative. On-the-job training can be useful when practical issues arise, perhaps simply reminding employees of common sense. You might think you are teaching the obvious but what's obvious to you may not be obvious to the employee. Simple and obvious instructions can lead to successful results.

Eliminate potential risks

Pubs are bristling with health and safety risks. You wouldn't want to remind your customers of that, but you and your staff must be aware of them and act to reduce those risks.

Simply rearranging chairs in the restaurant area, or placing bottles in optics are simple manual handling tasks which could result in injury, for instance.

More obviously, moving barrels of beer about in the cellar requires specific training on how to lift and hold the body in the correct position to avoid injury.

There are potential slipping hazards from the spillage of food and drink. Managers, barstaff and cleaners should all be trained on methods of cleaning and inspection to prevent risks of injury to fellow employees, visitors and the public.

Then there are sharp knives, glasses, hot work surfaces, cleaning chemicals... the list is endless - and training to reduce the risks is mandatory.

Sarah Faulkner is a solicitor in the workplace health and safety team at law firm Weightmans (sarah.faulkner@weightmans.com)

Related topics Training

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