Many of the current workforces of the nation will have undertaken some type of Health & Safety training at different stages throughout their careers. Whether that is in the catering industry, related to food hygiene, safe lifting, and COSHH (control of substances hazardous to health), or perhaps simply in an office environment, related to fire marshal responsibilities or first aid training – we’ve all been exposed to some level or other of Health & Safety culture being implemented. Most of us who have anything to do with working in a physical or manual role, or working in any more hazardous situations, will have undergone some more specific health & safety training, some of which may even be required by law, or by insurances, to be completed before you can begin working in the particular environment.
In all of the situations above, it’s vital to ensure that yourself, or your employees who are attending training, are attending the correct/official/recognised provider of training which satisfy the specific regulations. There is always the argument that any training, on firefighting, or food hygiene for example, is bound to be beneficial when compared to an employee receiving little or no training. Whilst this may sometimes be true, there is a risk involved, because some of these other providers, even with the purest of intentions, may end up giving out of date or conflicting advice to your employees, if they’re not singing from the same hymn sheet as the regulated bodies or approved providers. If members of your staff have been sent on training courses which are provided by ‘rogue traders’, you could end up in all sorts of trouble.
First Aid Failings
When I was in my early twenties I did some shifts as the Manager on Duty in a well known restaurant chain. Part of the requirement for being the Manager on Duty is to be first aid trained. I had attended a first aid training course a couple of years earlier, so the restaurant were able to ‘tick the box’ for their duty of care to staff and customers, and put me on shift. I had never really thought about having to use any first aid training during a shift at the restaurant, until one day a teenager, who was dining with her parents, began choking on what was otherwise an extremely quiet Monday afternoon. I looked on, as they hit her on the back a bit and she coughed, I offered a glass of water, they said they were fine, but in what felt like 10 minutes but was in reality only another 10 seconds or so, panic started to show on the girl’s and her parents faces – she didn’t seem to be able to dislodge whatever had gotten stuck in her throat. In that flash of realisation – I felt my heart race, my face go white, with the knowledge that I was supposed to be able to do something to help. I thought about the Heimlich manoeuvre, and how I couldn’t exactly remember all the things to be careful of, and wished I had done the training more recently! Thankfully, 2 seconds later the girl managed to cough up the bit of dough, and she was fine – and I believe before the parents had been able to notice that I had almost collapsed in panic at the situation.
I went on the proper training course for first aid, but even still, when push came to shove, I felt ill-prepared. Imagine if I had gone on a substandard training course, or if I had had the undeserved confidence based on some incorrect methods. More damage could have been caused if I waded in prematurely, or reacted with wrong actions after initial hesitance. We’d like to think that no personal fault would be found when we are in all earnest trying to do our best in a difficult situation, however, this isn’t always the case. People have been sued in the past for providing first aid to people in need – and the trend is only getting more common as we become more of a sue culture. A tragic story of first aiders being sued can be seen in this Telegraph article.
Working on Site
As well as the chance of being sued for Health & Safety failings, or lives being risked due to ill-equipped management, there’s also the chance that your business can suffer great financial or timetabling setbacks if your employees haven’t been on the right training courses.
There’s a requirement for construction site workers to have received on site safety training. The CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card is a certification which all construction site workers are required to have completed before they can even step foot on a construction site. This is taken extremely seriously, whereby workers cannot gain access to a site without a valid CSCS card. This is for the safety of all.
I previously worked for a Trade Association who offered all manner of training courses for the industry. They realised the need for industry professionals to have on site safety training, so along with a health and safety training provider, set up a course to allow the association’s members to easily gain this on site safety training whilst also receiving other relevant training. The health and safety training provider would give each course attendee a certificate and certification card once they had completed the course. We only realised that this ‘health and safety card for site workers’ wasn’t linked to the recognised CSCS scheme when one of our member companies’ owners, a small business with only a hand full of employees, called in to the office irate that his employees had been refused access to the site of a huge new job for the country, because their site safety cards which we’d provided weren’t a recognised accreditation by the construction industry.
Needless to say, they couldn’t get their CSCS cards quickly enough after that to gain access to the site, and so lost the job to another company who had the accredited CSCS training. The financial repercussions for the business could have been huge from loss of income, and loss of recommendations or even bad press from having acted unprofessionally, especially in an industry where small businesses like theirs often tend to put everything in to one big job at a time.
Above are just a couple of examples of why investing in the correct training of your staff is so important, but there are many more examples of why it’s so essential to provide proper training and support to your employees.