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Does Health and Safety Training Expire?

If you employ workers in the UK, it’s your legal obligation to provide relevant training to enable them to work without risk to their safety and health. And you don’t just have to provide this training but demonstrate it took place as evidence of compliance.

This training must be sufficient for the level and complexity of hazards inherent in your operations. And it must be up to date. So, it is important to know, if your training has expired and whether it’s time for refresher training.

Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer, as this depend upon the type of training that it is, as well as factors such as what the nature of the risk involved is. Let’s look at several examples of training to get an idea of whether your own training needs refreshing.

Types of Training That Need Refreshing

IOSH Managing Safely

As an example, the IOSH managing safely course is a type of training specifically designed for managers. This course, which is designed by the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), is well known as an industry standard for anyone in a management role who oversees others as part of their role.

Many organisations choose this training as it gives senior employees an overall view of health and safety and ensures that managers have the tools they need to keep their own teams safe.

There is no set rule about how long IOSH is valid for, but IOSH strongly recommends that this course is refreshed at least once every three years.

Asbestos Awareness

Another example is the UK Asbestos Training association (UKATA) Asbestos Awareness course. The UKATA asbestos awareness online course is vital for anyone that may come into contact with or disturb asbestos at work.

Asbestos fibres, if disturbed and accidently inhaled can be fatal and therefore training teams to have a comprehensive understanding about asbestos is essential. Asbestos training is a legal requirement for all employers to provide if any/all their workers are at risk of coming into contact, regular or otherwise, with asbestos.

Due to the nature of the risk involved, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends that asbestos awareness refresher training be undertaken at least every 12 months.

Confined Space Training

Confined space training is essential for employees working in small, enclosed areas, such as storage tanks, silos, reaction vessels, enclosed drains, and sewers.

Operations in these type of spaces is recognised as very high risk. Due to their nature, access and egress can be difficult which means if something goes wrong, you may not be able to escape. Hazards such as fires and explosions are much worse in confined spaces. In addition, suffocation can easily occur in a confined space, if oxygen levels run low.

The Confined Spaces Regulations 1997 require employers to have in place controls to manage these hazards, which include eliminating confined space work where possible and providing adequate training.

The validity of confined space training may differ from one country to another, but most standards extend from two to three years. A refresher course is recommended at intervals no greater than three years.

First Aid Training

First aid training is crucial for any organisation for obvious reasons. It’s the employer’s duty to assess the level of first aid cover they need and ensure they have enough adequately trained first aiders on site to manage the potential risks they face.

There are two types of first aid training available:

  • Emergency First Aid at Work: A course usually given over one day, that is a level two qualification.
  • First Aid at Work: A course usually given over three days, that is a level three qualification.

First aid training certificates generally are valid for three years. However, the HSE strongly recommends taking first aid refresher courses annually. While the initial certification for this training must be completed in a face-to-face session, the HSE has recognised that online first aid courses, such as offered by Human Focus, can be acceptable for refreshing knowledge, if unable to attend in person.

Hand Arm Vibration

Vibration exposure is a hazard common to many industrial and manufacturing environments. This often occurs when workers operate power equipment, which can cause their upper limbs or bodies to vibrate.

Prolonged exposure can lead to conditions such as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), which refers to a range of debilitating and often irreversible conditions. These include the loss of sensitivity in hands and grip strength, as well as pain and suffering.

Employers have a duty to prevent this hazard, by controlling exposure to ensure that workers do not exceed the workplace exposure limit (WEL), as defined under the law.

Although it depends on the employers when to refresh the knowledge of their workforce, it is highly recommended to renew the HAVS training every year. This gives labourers a clear update on the latest practices and the equipment which can cause HAVs.

Has Your Training Expired?

Government officials are not going to tell you what training your employees need or whether or not it is about to expire. Instead, you are expected to assess the unique requirements of your operations and provide training at an adequate level to protect your workers and others.

It’s your job to determine whether your risk controls are working and if training needs have been met.

There are, however, several general guidelines as to when training should be refreshed. These include:

  • When something happens, such as an incident or accident
  • When something changes internally, such as a process, work equipment, or work environment
  • When something changes externally, such as a legislative change or industry practice

Beyond these guidelines, use the risk assessment process and industry best practice as guidelines to determine if it’s time for a refresher.

Fortunately, health and safety training courses have never been more accessible. Human Focus offers a wide range of health and safety training and tools to keep your employees trained and up to date. And, if you see something missing in our library, speak to us about making a bespoke health and safety training course to meet your needs.

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Joe Vickers
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