You may be aware that another company has been fined this week because an employee was injured using a piece of work equipment they weren’t adequately trained to use. The employee, who was employed as a driver and had never used this type of equipment before, was shown what to do once and then left to his own devices. The result was the amputation of a few fingers for the employee and a £120,000 fine for the company.
So what should the company have done differently?
Everyone needs to know how to work safely and without risks to health. Clear instructions and information and adequate training must be provided. The information and training should be in a form that is easy to understand. It is important that everyone knows exactly what is expected of them.
Some staff have particular training needs, for example:
- new recruits;
- people changing jobs or taking on extra responsibilities;
- young employees, who are particularly vulnerable to accidents.
Employers must ‘ensure that all persons who use work equipment have received adequate training for the purposes of health and safety, including training in the methods which may be adopted when using work equipment, and risks which such use may entail and the precautions to be taken.’ (PUWER regulation 9).
Requirements for adequate training will vary according to:
- the job or activity;
- the existing competence of workers;
- the circumstances of the work (e.g. degree of supervision);
- the work equipment being used, amongst other things.
Special attention should be paid to the training of young people because of their relative immaturity and lack of familiarity with the working environment. Risk assessments should consider carefully the training needs of young people to determine whether they should undertake certain work activities.
Ok so training has been provided, now what?
New, inexperienced or young people, as well as those whose first language is not English, are likely to need more supervision than others. It is important employees know how to raise concerns and supervisors are familiar with the possible problems due to unfamiliarity, inexperience and communication difficulties. Supervisors need to make sure the control measures to protect against risk are being properly used, maintained and monitored.
Effective supervision can help you monitor the effectiveness of the training that people have received, and whether employees have the necessary capacity and competence to do the job.
Effective training and supervision combined should help prevent unnecessary accidents.
By Rachel Cuff CMIOSH – Risk Consultant