Many employers, particularly SMEs, are confused by the numerous health and safety occupational standards and training courses available. Proskills, the Sector Skills Council for the process manufacturing sector, says companies often struggle to understand the differences between the different training programmes, which has discouraged their uptake, leading to some employers questioning the value of health and safety standards and courses.
This means some employees are not receiving essential training in basic health and safety in the workplace. Furthermore, the inability to make valid comparisons reduces the mobility of labour, as employers cannot easily judge whether potential employees have appropriate knowledge in this key area.
Health and safety training, across all UK industries, is therefore to undergo a major review in a new initiative that will streamline the number of courses and qualifications available.
The initiative has been based on an initial consultation involving 38 organizations with a specific interest in health and safety. Research has found that a major issue for employers is the lack of health and safety awareness of school leavers entering the work environment. Young people are vulnerable to accidents in the workplace because of this failure, and this is an area that will be addressed.
Proskills is taking a lead role in the initiative with the aim of helping to simplify employers’ ability to compare and evaluate the myriad of health and safety standards available and, where possible, streamline provision.
The project will develop core entry-level qualifications and training courses that would be applicable across multiple industry sectors. These courses are to be integrated into the curricula for schools and other educational establishments to ensure school leavers and other new entrants to the work environment have attained a basic awareness of health and safety issues.
The project may also stimulate further initiatives by employers within the different industries to review more sector-specific qualifications and courses. In the meantime, Proskills will establish a working group to provide a collective voice across the different industries represented by their Sector Skills Councils. Key stakeholders from professional trade bodies, trade unions, safety organizations and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are expected to support the new group.
‘I believe that Proskills is well placed to represent the interests of the Sector Skills Council in this major new health and safety initiative,’ said James Barrett,head of the manufacturing sector at the HSE. ‘Proskills has adopted a number of innovative approaches. For example, the quarrying industry has achieved a 50% reduction in incidents over a five-year period and made a further commitment to improving its safety record.’
Mike Pert, chairman of the QPA Health and Safety Committee, added: ‘Health and safety is important to all employers within the extractive and mineral-processing sectors, and we are fully supportive and delighted that Proskills is leading this initiative