Training, information and supervision

Everyone who works or studies at the University or who visits requires some basic information about the risks they may face while they are here and how to avoid harm.  These needs can be addressed in various ways, sometimes through provision of basic information or through more extensive training programmes. 

SEPS trainer-led courses for staff are automatically recorded on staff HR records and it is strongly recommended that any training that is provided at local level is formally recorded to allow the unit to demonstrate that has has been delivered. 

Visitors and contractors

In the case of visitors who are here for a short time, arrangements to ensure that they are accompanied by staff, may be all that is required.  Where visitors may wander into hazardous areas this is particularly important and, in such cases, additional physical measures to restrict access to such areas will be needed.

If visitors will be unaccompanied, or are working here for longer periods, they may need more information.  Typically this should include details of emergency arrangements.  e.g. where exit routes are located.  Although these are identified by fire directional signs people are not always used to actively looking for these and it is helpful to have a route explained, particularly if it is not obvious.  Other basic information such as first aid arrangements might also be explained together with any local rules or procedures that are relevant.

As well as verbal explanations, formal ways to inform visitors of safety arrangements such as signs, notices or leaflets could be considered.  Where mass assembly events are held an introductory safety briefing should normally be incorporated into the opening remarks and information might also be included in, for example, conference packs.

Contractors who are present and working within University buildings are likely to need more extensive information than that indicated above.  Their needs should not be overlooked and should be determined on a case-by-case basis.  Where work on the building fabric is to be carried out this MUST be done in consultation with Estates.  Under these circumstances specialist and legally prescribed information sharing requirements may exist.

In many cases students will require similar basic information to that provided to visitors.  e.g. how to exit the building in an emergency, how to obtain help.  However, students will typically be here over a longer period and many will be involved in practical work, within workshops, laboratories and perhaps in locations remote from the university campus.  For each area of activity it is necessary to examine the work that is expected of the student and consider what information, training and supervision they may need to be able to carry out the assigned tasks safely.   The underlying legal requirement for all work to be subject to a risk assessment provides a mechanism by which the information, training and supervisory needs can be identified and recorded in a systematic way. 

Once the training and information needs have been identified relevant information must be communicated.  Briefings during lab classes, provision of handouts or presentation of safety information within existing working instructions.  e.g. lab procedures manuals, can be useful ways of ensuring that the necessary safety information is presented in a timely and useful manner.  Where possible, important information should be presented in more that one form.  e.g. written instructions backed up by verbal instruction. Also, individual ability to fully understand the information being given should always be considered, particularly where English is not the student’s first language or there are other barriers to communication. 

Where practical work is being carried out, close supervision by more experienced workers is of prime importance.  This allows hazardous practices to be identified and corrected and also allows less experienced workers to seek guidance on elements of the work that they are unsure about.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 contain an explicit requirement for employees to be provided with adequate health and safety training.   This is required in the following circumstances; 

  • On being recruited into the organisation.  i.e.  induction training
  • On being exposed to new or increased risks.  e.g. change in duties, introduction of new equipment, technology or a new system of work.

Induction training
Health, Safety and Wellbeing has developed an on-line safety induction video (Moodle log in required) that can be accessed via teh link provided or from the SEPS website.  Heads of Unit should ensure that all new staff have an opportunity to view this resource.  Undertaking this training is considered mandatory for new staff may also be beneficial to existing staff.  (For the purposes of safety training it is advisable to treat postgraduate students as “staff” and to require that they also undertake this training.) An online fire safety training module is also provided and should be treated as part of the mandatory induction training for new staff.

Whilst the on-line induction course provides an overview of safety within the University, this does need to be supplemented by training at management unit/building level to inform new staff of the specific safety arrangements that apply locally.  For example, fire escape procedures, first aid locations, accident/defect reporting systems etc.

General training
As indicated above, safety legislation contains a general requirement for staff to be provided with training and, where appropriate, periodic refresher training.  In addition to this, topic specific safety regulations generally also contain requirements to provide adequate information, instruction and training in relation to particular hazards.  (See SEPS Safety Topic A_Z guide for examples or areas where training may be required.)

One of the aims of the risk assessment process must be to examine tasks systematically to identify the training needs of those who may undertake them. Training requirements should be recorded on the risk assessment and should encompass training in the technical aspects of the work that are needed to be able to perform the work safely.   The precise nature and content of the training required is not usually set by regulation as this is dependant on the needs of the worker and of the task. A Safety Training Needs Analysis Template (v1) is provided by SEPS and is recommended as a mean of identifying the core safety training required by various groups within the unit. This does not cover technical skills training which may also be needed.

Although formal training courses are appropriate for some purposes, training need not always be provided through organised courses.  Particularly with specialist work, suitable courses may not always be available and the skills that people develop over their career may  be gained through interaction and mentoring by more experienced colleagues.  Through such interactions information and knowledge may be passed on and practical skills demonstrated.  Such sharing of skills is of immense value and, provided safe working practices are being fostered, should be encouraged at both formal and informal levels.   In order to be able to demonstrate that appropriate training has been provided, where risk assessments indicate that particular skills and knowledge are needed to perform a task safely, it is strongly recommended that provision of any “in-house” training of this type be formally recorded.

Many staff within the University will undertake specialist duties and will possess specialist skills.  Such staff should be closely involved in the risk assessment process as they will be best equipped to understand what skills and knowledge are needed to do the work safely.  These staff may also be well placed to train others and to pass on their skills.