What Health and Safety Training do Schools and Colleges need?
Unfortunately, there is no simple list of the training which schools and colleges need to provide for their staff.This is because no two colleges or schools are on identical sites, doing identical tasks, in identical ways with identical people.These variations result in different levels of risk and often require different control measures. The training provided therefore needs to take account of these differences.
The purpose of providing health & safety training to employees is to establish, maintain or enhance the individual's competence. The type and level of health and safety training which trustees, governors, directors, managers and employees will require will depend upon:
- the requirements of their job;
- the level of risk they are exposed to;
- their previous experience;
- the frequency with which they will use the knowledge/skills gained from training.
- findings of hazard registers identifying key tasks (and by association areas requiring competence);
- findings of risk assessments;
- industry standards (e.g. CLEAPSS, DATA etc.);
- job descriptions (note these are often vague on actual duties and therefore of limited use).
- health and safety induction;
- fire safety awareness.
- health and safety awareness for managers - basic understanding of role and responsibilities, types of systems required etc.;
- general risk assessment - they may need other specialisms such as manual handling assessor, COSHH assessor etc.;
- accident investigation.
Job requirements for school and college employees fall into two main categories. Those associated with performing the actual duties of the job safely, such as working on step-ladders, unblocking drains etc. and the safety management tasks of managers and supervisors (e.g. policy development, risk assessment, inspection, accident investigation etc.).
Level of risk
The greater the level of risk to which an employee is exposed during their work, the higher the level of competence their employer needs to ensure they have to minimise the likelihood of an accident.
If an employee has extensive experience of an activity then they may not require as much training and development as a new member of the school or college's staff. Conversely an employee's previous experience may not be helpful if it includes working using unsafe practices, as these may be difficult to change. The employer must ensure that their staff are competent to undertake the tasks which they have been allocated.
Frequency of use of training/knowledge/skills
People's ability to retain information and skills deteriorates with the passage of time.Therefore, school and college employees who only undertake tasks infrequently need to be trained more often than those who repeat them regularly.
Type of Training
The term "training" is widely used to cover a range of activities including providing employees with information, giving them instruction and formal or informal training courses/sessions. The type of training which is required will depend on the level of risk to which the school or college's staff are exposed. In some cases it may be that a mixture of types is appropriate. For example if a task was high risk it is likely that the employees would need to attend formal training to initially develop their competence. Toolbox talks (short informal sessions at the workplace) might then be held at regular intervals to reinforce particular parts of the training.
How do I Identify the Training my School or College's Staff Require?
The best way to establish the training needs of your staff is to develop a competency matrix or matrices. These show the the training which is required for various job roles. The information used to develop the matrices can come from a number of sources:
There are some basic competencies which appear on all competency matrices:
Managers and supervisors will need to have competence to manage the risks of the activities which their staff undertake. They will therefore need at least the following competencies:
Senior managers, governors and trustees with responsibility for health and safety should have a greater depth of knowledge, so that they can set the direction for the school or college and effectively monitor its health and safety performance. We would recommend that a suitable minimum level of course for these individuals is the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health's (IOSH) Managing Safely. This course would also be appropriate for the school or college's health and safety co-ordinator ( the person delegated to have oversight of the Safety Management System on behalf of the principal or headteacher).
Information on the health and safety and fire safety training courses which we offer can be found via the links below: