Why is health and safety training for managers important?

Why is health and safety training for managers important?

Posted on Dec 18, 2015

 Why is health and safety training for managers important?


health & safety training

Before becoming a ‘Manager’ for the first time, I thought that being a ‘Manager’ would make me important. What wonderful naiveté that turned out to be. The reality check was swift: I wasn’t important. I was something far more terrifying: responsible. Suddenly, bosses and my team alike looked at me with a great sense of expectation. I was meant to know the answer, but I had no clue how a tiny change in job title had suddenly filled my mind with a wealth of knowledge about EVERYTHING*.

This expectation on managers extends into the realm of health and safety too. There are many, many responsibilities held by managers and directors when it comes to health and safety, and unfortunately, not knowing isn’t a good enough excuse for not doing it.


Managing vs leading when it comes to health and safety responsibilities

If you’ve gone through some management development coaching or spent a few hours browsing inspirational quotes on Pinterest, there is enormous scope for debating the difference between management and leadership. We’ll sidestep that whole debate and focus specifically on the distinction drawn by the HSE between leading and managing health and safety.

Leaders are considered to be owners, the Board of Directors, the Managing Director etc. They have ultimate responsibility.

Managers are the people delegated to oversee the day-to-day operation of health and safety; team leaders, supervisors and managers.

The responsibilities are:

Leading health and safety

Managing health and safety

• Ensuring that health and safety is important and considered through decisions at all levels of the business • Communicating clearly what everyone’s roles and responsibilities are
• Leading by example: setting the standard and then adhering to it • Maintaining clear and up-to-date paperwork
• Offering sufficient consultation with workers about health and safety • Managing risk and the control measures for identified risks
• Treating non-compliance with health and safety seriously • Measuring and checking performance to identify areas to improve upon or lessons to be learnt


If you have the correct health and safety training for your managers, you will: 

Find out that managing health and safety isn’t a burden


The words of HSE Chair Judith Hackitt sum up this up well: 

“There is a need for a sensible and proportionate approach to risk management, in short, a balanced approach – this means ensuring that paperwork is proportionate, does not get in the way of doing the job, and it certainly does not mean risk elimination at all costs.” 

Not understanding what your obligations are can quite easily lead to fear of the unknown or panic about how complex/scary of the amount of work involved. A clear, easy-to-use source of information combats this problem quite simply. 


Avoid unnecessary spend


Unless you’re operating in a large-scale or high-risk environment, there’s a strong chance that, as a small- or medium-sized business, you’ll be able to manage your health and safety requirements in-house. For example, if you have fewer than 5 employees you don’t even need to write your health and safety policy down. (But, if you do have more than 5 employees, and don’t have a written health and safety policy you can download a template here.) You need to have a nominated “competent person” but this doesn’t need to be an external expert (unless you feel that you lack the knowledge in-house).

Also, be mindful of persistent myths. For example, a 2014 study by the HSE found that 11% of companies surveyed believed that a qualified electrician must test electrical appliances (such as kettles and toasters) each year, which isn’t the case. Save your cash for something else. 


Minimise the number of workplace accidents or injury


Even in a low-risk environment, accident or injury is possible and, as we’ve mentioned before, some of the most common workplace injuries occur in the low-risk environment. 


Keep your team working


Efficient procedures and practices not only keep your workers safe and healthy, they can keep people focussed on what you need them to be doing. 

Steer clear of an embarrassing HSE Myth Busters gaffe Have you seen the HSE Myth Busters Challenge Panel? It's a place where people can put examples to HSE of where they’ve been prevented from doing something due to health and safety reasons. Would you like to be the: 

  • ‘bah humbug’ supermarket café who thinks that warming a minced pie is unsafe; or
  • car rental company who cites health and safety reasons to prevent dogs going in their cars; or
  • golf club who couldn’t display meeting minutes on a noticeboard for health and safety reasons?

Separate fact from perception and you can avoid the Myth Busters Wall of Shame.  


Be legally compliant


It always feels like such a cop-out to get to the point of saying ‘you have to’ as a reason for why you should do something. It also goes against one of our most important learning philosophies:  we’re more of the ‘carrot’ fan club than the ‘stick’. But, sadly, there are some things that we just have to do and implementing an appropriate level of training is one of them. Find out more here.  


See it in action

Interested in trying out flick’s health and safety training for yourself? 


health & safety training free trial


*With the benefit of hindsight, I now live in hope that one day I might have a wealth of knowledge that equals about 1% of everything. I think this counts as ‘on-the-job training’ don’t you?


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