When it comes to workplace training, we’ve found that there are a number of myths that need to be dispelled.
Many employers want staff who are highly-skilled and trained in their roles – which is a reasonable expectation. However, there are some unfairly negative assumptions about what training their people entails – including that training employees has to cost lots of money.
In this article, we’re going to bust some of those myths and look at ways that providing good health & safety training can actually save your business money.
Busting myths around health & safety training
Employers sometimes consider the financial and time costs of training as an unnecessary burden on their business. Time away from everyday tasks to undertake a training course is seen as a logistical problem. The fact that so few businesses run with surplus employees – especially during the coronavirus pandemic – means there’s no one to step in and cover for staff while they’re in training. And that lost time costs money, right?
This is a common outlook when it comes to any type of training, but it particularly colours many employers’ views on health & safety training. The immediate benefits of health & safety training within a business can be hard to discern, versus a training course that might boost productivity or teach someone a new process or how to use new equipment.
However, we know that there are many ways that quality health & safety training can benefit your business – not only saving you money, but protecting your business, keeping you compliant and retaining your team.
1. Complying with the law and avoiding fines
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 – the primary legislation governing the general duties of employers to protect their workforce from hazards and risks in the workplace – not only covers measures such as risk management and the provision of a safe working environment, it also covers training.
The Act highlights that it’s the responsibility of the employer to provide “information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure… the health and safety at work of his employees.”
This is supported in statute by a number of regulations, often risk specific – for example, Working at Height, Manual Handling, Controlling Substances Hazardous to Health, each of which with their own training requirement. This provides the flexibility for regulators to focus on particular risk areas and hone in on where the greatest risks are present.
It is essential that businesses comply with health & safety laws – including the instruction to provide information and training to their employees. In doing so, they are not only complying with the law - and thus reducing the chance of enforcement action against them, but they are also enabling their employees to better perform their duties in a safe manner and providing mitigation and protecting themselves from the risks of prosecution and civil claims in the event of an accident.
2. Training helps prevent costly accidents
According to the HSE’s statistics for 2019/20, an estimated 38.8 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury, with an estimated cost of £16.2 billion to UK business owners.
As the old saying goes, “if you think safety is expensive, try an accident” - accidents cost money, that much is clear. Health & safety training isn’t just an item to check off your to-do list – it forms the basis of raising awareness among your employees to the risks and hazards that exist in the work environment. The more informed and well-trained your employees are about those risks; the likelihood of accidents (and the subsequent cost of those accidents) reduces.
The recent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) promotions around ‘Going Home Healthy’ and Working Right, have put the individual, the employee, at the forefront, concentrating less on the workplace and more on the work activity. Training can help ensure that the individual has all of the necessary skills and tools in order to leave the workplace fit and healthy at the end of every day.
3. Increase engagement and retain your people
Investing in your employees’ training has numerous benefits. Firstly is the issue of engagement. Feeling invested in is crucial when it comes to staff staying at your business for the long haul. If someone feels overlooked and undervalued you risk apathy, lack of motivation and underperformance.
Dips in performance cost money in lost productivity and performance management measures you might have to escalate. Research backs this up too. The globally-renowned Gallup survey – which measures employee engagement and its impact within organisations – confirms that, on average, engaged employees are 22% more productive.
Secondly, with recruitment costs for UK businesses potentially running into the thousands, keeping your people engaged and trained is certainly the most cost-effective way of running a business. If an employee does decide to leave, the job advertisement, interviews, health and safety training, on-job training, and additional HR tasks, all take time and potentially productivity from the business as someone else in the workforce assists new employees in bringing them up to speed.
4. Keep compensation culture at bay
Employees injured in the workplace may have grounds for a successful civil claim against your business, and these can run into significant figures. It is acknowledged that we now live in a litigation society, with no-win no-fee firms advertising everywhere. Employees are now aware of how to claim, consider the risks of claiming to be minimal and can even be emboldened to embellish accidents to gain a payout. Typically, employees have up to three years to complete a civil claim, so claims could spring seemingly from nowhere and land on your plate.
Health & safety training can help provide mitigating evidence on behalf of your business. By ensuring that employees are trained in safe working practices, you not only reduce the likelihood of accidents and injuries in your workplace in the first place, but also have the additional benefit of supporting you in a potential claim further down the line.
Southalls have supported clients not just in remedial actions following enforcement from the HSE, but by also instituting proactive training courses for clients, to prevent further enforcement action – and resultant financial sanction – further down the line. Read more about how we helped builders’ merchant Kent Blaxill & Co move past a fine with health & safety support, risk management and a proactive training programme.
Want to boost your bottom line, keep your people safe and your business protected around the clock? If you’re interested in finding out how health & safety compliance – including training your employees – can help your business, book a free H&S consultation with the team at Southalls to find out more.