Training workers is very important in managing health and safety in the workplace.

Employers are duty-bound under health and safety legislation to provide it for employees. Self-employed people must be competent to conduct their activities without exposing themselves or others to health and safety risks. Committing to structured training, benefits organisation performance and reduces the chance and impact of disruptive incidents.

Informal or unstructured training can overlook proper health and safety procedures and precautions, allowing incorrect practices that haven’t been formally assessed to emerge.

Training is important to establish competency, and should be linked to key responsibilities, activities and tasks identified in risk assessments.

The overarching objective of an employer, with respects to health and safety, should be to:

  • provide information, instruction and training to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, employees spot and control hazards and risks; and
  • develop safe systems of work (SSOW) and risk control measures for health and safety and include them in formal work instructions and procedures.

The requirements for effective completion of these actions can be determined, primarily, from the health and safety policy and from up-to-date and comprehensive risk assessments.

Key actions to develop effective training

  • Develop training plans for new starters, employees changing roles and to refresh or supplement training and instruction already delivered.
    • Identify skills and knowledge needed for employees to do their job in a safe and healthy manner. Compare these against existing skills and knowledge (a gap analysis of training needs).
    • Review records of injuries, near misses and cases of ill health to spot potential weak points in training.
    • Refer to the risk assessments to find out where information and/or training has been identified as a key factor to controlling risks.
    • Consult employees or representatives for their views and input.
    • Consider awareness training needs for everyone, including directors, managers and supervisors.
  • Work out if there is a need for specific training for certain individuals or workers involved in particular activities.
  • Prioritise training for situations where a lack of information and/or training might result in serious harm, or where the largest number(s) of staff would benefit (as well as that of new recruits and people changing their jobs or taking on new responsibilities).
  • Decide on the training methods and resources needed to make it as effective as possible. For example, an external trainer might be necessary, ‘on the job’ training might be better, or it could be achieved through eLearning modules.
  • Try to use a variety of training methods, adapting them for individuals’ needs and following feedback picked up through worker consultations.
  • Consider the training needs of all employees, including people whose first language isn’t English and disabled employees.
  • Make sure any information provided is easy to understand.
  • Check the training has worked and employees have the knowledge and skills to work safely. Then decide if there is a need for further training.
    • Training should progress to behavioural based safety management, and the creation of a safety partnership between management and employees to focus on daily safety behaviours, improving and reinforcing safe behaviour, while reducing unsafe behaviour.
  • Provide periodic refresher training, including for infrequent, complex or safety critical tasks.
  • Keep employees or their representatives on health and safety matters involved in regular consultations.
  • Monitor and stay up-to-date with relevant legislation and guidance.

Templates that may assist with assessing training needs

Additional resources

Frequently asked questions

Find answers to some common queries about health and safety issues and related legislation.