It can be discouraging for employers when their company rolls out health and safety training only for employees – or even leaders – to dismiss the exercise as a waste of time.
Now, new research is providing proof that health and safety training really does make a difference to both organisations and their employees.
The government’s latest workplace health and safety attitudes and behaviours survey confirmed strong links between recent health and safety training and the way people act and feel at work.
The survey, which was commissioned by safety regulator WorkSafe, canvassed thousands of Kiwi workers and employers in high-risk industries, asking them about their experiences of workplace health and safety.
The survey found that workers who had received health and safety training in the last 12 months were more likely to feel confident in knowing how to report injuries, accidents and near misses, and to say action was taken if a new hazard was noticed.
Alison Molloy, chief executive of health and safety not-for-profit Site Safe, said the survey made it clear that investing in workers made good business sense.
“People are the biggest asset in any business and when it comes to health and safety, investing in your people can save lives,” she said.
“Health and safety training not only builds skills, confidence and empowers workers to speak up, it also contributes to a happier, safer and more productive workplace,” she continued.
“The business case for health and safety training is clear – not only does training prevent injuries and accidents, it demonstrates that you care for your people and want to keep them safe. This equates to real benefits for your business.”
Those who had undergone safety training recently were also more likely to feel they made a difference to health and safety at their workplace and to feel their boss would support them in speaking up or stopping work if the job was unsafe.
However, on a more disappointing note, three out of ten employers admitted that none of their workers had ever undergone any health and safety training despite being in high-risk industries.
Under current health and safety legislation, employers are not obligated to provide health and safety training but are required to engage with their workers on health and safety, and to give staff the opportunity to contribute to improving health and safety.