Frequently Asked Questions

What is Training?

Women thinking

Training means helping people to learn how to do something, telling people what they should or should not do, or simply giving them information. Training isn't just about formal 'classroom' courses - there are lots of alternatives some of which, for example, toolbox talks, can cost virtually nothing to prepare and deliver.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to provide whatever information, instruction, training and supervision as necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of employees.

Who needs health and safety training?
Everybody does!
Employers do!
Whether you are an employer or self-employed, are you sure that you're up to date with how to identify the hazards and control the risks from your work? Do you know how to get help - from your trade association, your local Chamber of Commerce, or your health and safety enforcing authority? Do you know what you have to do about consulting your employees, or their representatives, on health and safety issues? If not, you would probably benefit from some training.
Managers and supervisors do! If you employ managers or supervisors they will certainly need some training. They need to know what is expected from them in terms of health and safety, and how you expect them to deliver. They need to understand your health and safety policy, where they fit in, and how their management wants health and safety managed. They may also need training in the specific hazards involved in the work you do and how you expect the risks to be controlled.
Employees do! Everyone who works for you (including self-employed, trainees and temporary staff), needs to know how to work safely and without risks to health. Like supervisory staff, they need to know about your health and safety policy, your arrangements for implementing it, and the part they play. They also need to know how they can raise any health and safety concerns with you.
You should take into account the capabilities, training, knowledge and experience of workers; and ensure that the demands of the job do not exceed their ability to carry out their work without risk to themselves and others.
Some employees may have particular training needs, for example new recruits need basic induction training including how to work safely, arrangements for first aid, fire and evacuation, and so on; people changing jobs or taking on extra responsibilities need to know about any new health and safety implications; because their bodies and minds are not fully mature, young employees are particularly vulnerable to accidents and you need to pay particular attention to their needs, so their training should be a priority. It is also important that new, inexperienced or young employees are adequately supervised; some people's skills may need updating by refresher training.
Your risk assessment should identify any further specific training needs

Why do accidents happen?

Accidents don't just happen - they are usually the result of a chain of events.
Often there are several causes such as:

  • Lack of planning
  • People not working in line with the plan
  • Lack of experience/knowledge
  • People not doing what they are told
  • Messing about
  • Lack of time
  • Incorrect or broken equipment/tools.

Other factors can also lead to accidents, including being under the influence of drink or drugs (including some prescription medication, which can affect performance) and tiredness - a particular problem for staff who are on call.

Staff training is essential to ensure that they do not behave in ways that are likely to lead to an accident or cause themselves or others harm in the course of their work.

What is CSCS and why is it important?

CSCS stands for the Construction Skills Certification Scheme. Many major construction sites insist that contractors and other people such as regular visitors, drivers, etc. hold a card before they are admitted to site as this is proof that they certain trade skills or experience and that they have passed an appropriate CSCS touch screen health and safety test. The card has to be updated every five years - further proof that workers' skills and knowledge are current

Do I need a CSCS card?

In our experience, CSCS cards are being demanded on more and more major construction sites, a move which we fully support as it means that every card holder has at least a basic level of health and safety knowledge. If you think you may need one it is better to organise this now than to wait until you are asked for one and then miss out on a contract. Call the CSCS helpline on 0844 576 8777 for further information.

Can I book a CSCS card test through you?

No. Please don't call us to book a test! The CSCS helpline number is 0844 567 8777. They can advise on which CSCS card is right for you and where you can take the test. You can also get further information online:

Can I obtain a CSCS card through you?

No, please call the helpline, as before.

Can I book one place on a training course with you?

We do not run open courses at this time, although the numbers we can accommodate on each course varies depending on space and other requirements. For example, we can however offer Abrasive Wheels courses for groups of between two and eight delegates. Training groups enables us to tailor our courses to the needs of people who are employed by the same company and work in similar fields, making the course as relevant as possible to everyone who attends. For example, if you work on a building site, your requirements from an Appointed Person First Aid course will not be the same as those of someone who works in childcare. Call us on 01268 293322 for further details

Why is a health and safety awareness training important?

For people who are new to a trade or skill, it is important to get into good habits early on; for people who have many years' experience, old habits sometimes die hard! And of course everyone needs to be kept up to speed with the latest developments, regulations and codes of practice. Feedback from delegates on our courses bears out the fact that even the most experienced attendee will pick up new ideas and information they did not know. A trained workforce is a safe workforce: research has shown that training has played a fundamental role in reducing work-related deaths and injuries since the advent of the Health and Safety at Work Act in 1974.

I was trained in health and safety years ago. Why do I need more health and safety training?

You wouldn't expect to show a child how to cross the road once, and that to be enough. Although many training schemes and apprenticeships include an element of health and safety, everyone needs to have a refresher at regular intervals - especially if particular skills are not used very often, for example, if one member of staff sometimes needs to fill in for another. It's essential to keep up to date with new developments, changes of regulation and best practice, too. Over the last 60 years or so, industry first reduced accident rates by improving: hardware (effective guards, safer equipment); then improved employee performance (selection and training, incentives and reward schemes) and, then changed the way they manage and organise - especially, by introducing safety management systems. Each improvement reduced accidents to a 'plateau' level where further improvement seemed impossible. Now most accidents happen as a result of employee errors or violations, e.g. taking short cuts, trying to improvise in a new situation. Training can help to reduce the number of accidents and to improve employee's responses in an emergency.

How often do I need to retrain in health and safety?

Some courses need to be taken more frequently than others, e.g. Appointed Person First Aid should be re-taken every three years; other skills such as safe mounting and use of abrasive wheels should be taken at least every five years. Many tasks such as roof works should never be undertaken by somebody who has not been properly trained. If in doubt, seek advice.

My workers are all sub-contractors. Do I have to provide training for them?

If a person who works under your control and direction is treated as self-employed for tax and national insurance purposes, they may nevertheless be treated as your employee for health and safety purposes and you may need to take appropriate action to protect them. The HSE advises that if you do not wish to employ workers on this basis, legal advice should be sought; ultimately each case can only be decided on its own merits by a court of law

Isn't Health and Safety training going to cost me a lot of money?

The Health and Safety (Offences) Act came into force in January 2009, raising the maximum penalties for health and safety offences from £ 5,000 to £ 20,000 in the lower courts and increasing the number of offences for which a prison sentence can be given in the lower and higher courts. So, health and safety is something no business can afford to scrimp on.
Time and money spent on health and safety training is a good investment: research shows that - as well as having fewer accidents - companies that have a positive, pro-active health and safety culture are more productive. In fact, when you look at cost per delegate for a day's training, the cost is surprisingly low.
There's also a lot of free information available from the website of the Health and Safety Executive, If you belong to a trade or professional body, free health and safety information may be available to you. There are also lots of things you can do in-house, such as: having a notice-board or a suggestions box dedicated to health and safety issues; appointing a senior member of staff to be the company's health and safety "champion"; including health and safety and training on the agenda of your company's management meetings and staff meetings; running regular toolbox talks (see below). These simple measures can help to keep health and safety at the top of everybody's agenda.

What are toolbox talks and who can give them?

Toolbox talks should not be a series of lectures for the workforce. It should be a time to get a message across and listen to the group response. They are designed to get the workforce thinking and talking about Health and Safety issues, so can be delivered by a manager, supervisor, health and safety representative or other competent person.

A toolbox talk should involve two-way communication between the person delivering the talk (not reading from a sheet!) and the audience. The topic can either be on a general, relevant topic (for example working at height, manual handling, slips, trips, and falls, noise), a discussion about an incident that occurred on site, or a discussion about a new workplace hazard.

It is not important where a toolbox talk is held. The key is to have a location that is safe, where everyone can hear each other, and is free from interruptions. An audience of between 4 and 12 is the most effective size for a toolbox talk. The duration of the talk should be limited to 10-15 minutes; it is important not to wander off the topic.

A toolbox talk register should be kept showing the topic of the talk, where the talk was held, and who attended.

Toolbox talk packs can be bought from organisations such as the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB): or Blue Planet can prepare toolbox talks for you to deliver to your staff.

My company has a really robust health and safety policy and all our procedures are written down. Why do we need training as well?

The health and safety culture of a company can be divided into 5 interdependent areas;

  1. Procedures
  2. Concern for safety standards
  3. Incident investigation reporting
  4. Training
  5. Safety communication

If any single element of the five is missing or inadequate, then the company's health and safety system will be weakened.

The pre-flight safety drill given by a flight attendent on an aircraft is a good example of this kind of health and safety model in action.