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Health and safety training – how to do it right.

Understanding when and where health and safety training should be provided is very important to your business and your employees.

Providing health and safety training in the workplace is one of the must-do actions placed on employers by health and safety law and it’s no wonder really, as correct training has been proven to have one of the biggest impacts on increasing health and safety performance in the workplace.


It not only increases the safety and working conditions of your employees but it can also have a seriously positive impact on your business too. Displaying commitment to your workforce of this type, proves time and time again to increase positivity and engagement by all members of the team – productivity and revenues both go up. As a business owner you can evidence tangible gains in your financial losses too. Complying with the law means you will avoid enforcement fines – the average fine from HSE last year was £147,000! Totally unavoidable through improvements in your health and safety culture and effective training


This article is for employers who are considering what type of training they need to provide, to which employees and how often. It is not an exhaustive list of the training you might need to provide but more of a point in the right direction to get you thinking about who you should be providing training for and when. Every business is different and so every business has different training needs. It’s very important that you spend time understanding the training requirements of your business and how to effectively provide for them. If you need more help on this you can get on touch with us on 0151 662 0062 or


It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure the provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees.”

Health and safety at work act 1974 

As with most of the statements included in the health and safety act, the above is quite vague (purposefully so, click this link if you want to read more about the act). This primary piece of health and safety legislation says that employers must provide whatever training is necessary to protect their staff, but puts the onus of exactly which training and how often onto the employer to organise. 

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, help us out further by identifying situations where health and safety training is particularly important, eg when people start work, on exposure to new or increased risks and where existing skills may have become rusty or need updating.

There are a number of sets of more specific regulations under the HSWA which include general or specific health and safety training requirements. We’ve listed some of these at the bottom of this article, these regulations are categorised into the different types of hazards that can be found in the workplace. So manual handling for an example is a specific type of hazard,  a person can injury themselves carrying many different types of things but the regulation talks about the act of manual handling, ie the hazardous activity itself. If you need help with identifying which hazards apply to your business get in touch with us on 0151 662 0062 or 

Getting started

Ask for support. Often your Trade Association will be able to direct you to the training courses which are the most appropriate for your business activity. For example if you work in a construction industry then contacting the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) will provide a lot of useful information for you. Speak to your local Chamber of Commerce or the enforcing authorities (HSE and the Fire Service) who will be happy to provide advice. If your industry is independently regulated then speak to the regulatory body. It’s well worth reaching out to everybody you can for advice. 

A ‘training needs analysis’ is the first place to start for all businesses when considering exactly what training is required. This sounds scary but in reality, you’re already doing a mini one each time you think about who needs training.

Start by thinking about everybody that either has an effect or is affected by your business. Pay particular attention to those in the following groups:

– Directors, CEOs, Non-Exec Board members (this group should have a strong positive influence on health and safety culture)

– Senior and Middle managers (this group has a key role in driving the business policy)

– Team leaders and Supervisors (this group often have a lot of responsibility, a large workload and know the job better than anyone)

– Trainees (this group is at higher risk due to their inexperience with the job and environment)

– New starters (this group is at higher risk due to their unfamiliarity with the job)

– Those in a new role or completing a new task (this group is at higher risk due to their unfamiliarity with the job)

– Those who use more hazardous equipment or have a more hazardous job role

Your training needs analysis should be a formal exercise that you complete fairly regularly to make sure that everybody has suitable training but the practice of thinking about your employees training should go on constantly, even if it’s not written down. When a situation changes, such as a job task or the people involved change roles, think about whether extra training is needed. If you need help with this get in touch with us on 0151 662 0062 or 

Keep your employees knowledge up to date through adequate refreshers. Certain qualifications will have renewal dates attached to them which makes it easier to plan your refresher training but others don’t and you’ll need to use your own judgement.

If your delegates have received ‘in-house training’, meaning they haven’t received an accredited regulated certificate from an awarding body, then it’s likely an official renewal date won’t apply. So how do you know when you should renew the qualification? Assuming the qualification isn’t covered by a specific regulation (like the ones below), and even sometimes then, it comes down to your training needs analysis and your risk assessment of the job/person. You need to think about the total risk posed to the employee by the job or task.

Let’s take an employee who uses an abrasive wheel as part of their role for example. In-house, non-accredited training is a perfectly valid way of training the employee on how to use the tool safely (providing the tutor and training material is competent enough). The training will need to be renewed (or retaken) at regular enough intervals to satisfy the level of risk in the employee’s job role. If the employee is using the tool every day then you should consider regular refreshers, because it’s a high-risk part of their job. Meaning the likelihood of an accident is fairly high, because they’re using it often and the consequences of an accident are high, because it’s a dangerous tool. Perhaps every 6-12 months would be fair. But if the employee is using the tool-less frequently and only for small, short  or lower-risk tasks, perhaps less-frequent refresher training is required. We would recommend a maximum of three years between training sessions for this type of training but it’s possible you could go longer if you’re providing tool-box talks or smaller more frequent learning sessions – you need to work it out depending on your risk assessment.

Consider using different types of training methods here, perhaps when the employee has induction training on the tool, classroom training would be more appropriate so they gain a thorough understanding of the machine and can gain valuable supervised experience. But then maybe e-learning would be more appropriate in employing regularly refreshers. E-learning is a much more cost-effective and time-effective way of regularly refreshing the knowledge .

How to carry out your health and safety training plan in 5 steps

The below five steps are taken from the HSE Guidance on health and safety training and explain how you can carry out a training programme from start to finish in in your business. To read the advice in full click here.

Step 1: Decide what training your organisation needs

Step 2: Decide your training priorities

Step 3: Choose your training methods and resources

Step 4: Deliver the training

Step 5: Check that the training has worked  

Advice for implementing a positive health and safety training culture

Large organisations may have one person or even a whole team who specifically dedicate their time to employee training, which is a brilliant commitment from the Board to training but might not be necessary for a smaller business. Creating and implementing an effective training plan doesn’t have to be such a time-consuming job if it’s done well and kept up to date regularly,

Health and safety training is not a one-off exercise. It has to be built into ongoing business management. No matter how operational resources you dedicate to it day to day, always make sure positive commitment is shown at Board level. But include everybody in your plan, the law requires you to consult with your employees on training matters, and seek the advice of professionals where necessary.

Have a section in your health and safety policy which is specifically about training and include roles and responsibilities. Ensure that health and safety requirements are built into job descriptions and not an additional task added on top, and make sure that your training programme suits the job tasks being asked. 

Some of the regulations regarding training are listed below.

– Asbestos ‘The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations’

– Diving ‘The Diving at Work Regulations

– First aid ‘The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations’

– Noise and vibration ‘Noise at Work Regulations (NAW Regs) and ‘The Control of Vibration at Work Regulation

– Transport of dangerous goods ‘The Transport of Dangerous Goods (Safety Advisers) Regulations

– Confined spaces ‘The Confined Spaces Regulations

– Display screen equipment ‘The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations (DSE Regs)‘ 

– Flammable materials ‘Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations’

– Lifting operations ‘Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations’

– Personal protective equipment ‘Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations (PPE Regs)’

– Substances hazardous to health ‘Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regs (COSHH)’

– Construction ‘The Construction (Design and Management) Regulation’

– Electricity ‘Electricity at Work Regs’

– Fire precautions ‘The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005’

– Manual handling ‘Manual Handling Operations Regulations (MHO Regs)’

– Work equipment ‘Provision and Use of Work Equipment (PUWER) Regs’

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