Health and safety induction training | What to include and 10 top tips for employers

When it comes to creating a positive health and safety culture and driving down risk, raising awareness among employees and instilling the right behaviours from day one is essential.

After all, unless staff understand the hazards associated with their role and working environment, and how to avoid them through safe working practices, mistakes will inevitably be made.

Not only will providing new recruits with proper health and safety training establish a firm basis for strong safety performance, but it is also a legal requirement.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) 1974, employers must provide whatever information, instruction, training and supervision is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their employees while at work. Further, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 identify certain situations where health and safety training is particularly important, including when an employee starts work.

In this blog, we explain everything you need to know about inducting new recruits.

Why is it important to properly induct new employees?

New employees are particularly prone to accidents and ill health from work-related activity, especially if they are young and inexperienced. This is likely due to a number of factors, including:

  • A lack of familiarity with the working environment;
  • Reduced risk perception (a lack knowledge or awareness leading new employees to underestimate risks); and/or
  • Issues with training (a lack of on-the-job training, or in some cases any training at all).

As such, taking the time to provide health and safety induction and orientation in the workplace is essential to protecting new employees from harm. What’s more, failure to do so may lead to criminal prosecution and a substantial fine.

How in-depth does health and safety induction training need to be?

New recruits will need to know how to work safely and without risks to health; however, a proportionate approach should be taken when determining what level of information, instruction and training is required. For example, low-risk businesses won’t need to provide lengthy technical training; simple information and clear instruction is likely to be enough.

What should a health and safety induction cover?     

The purpose of induction is to set standards, raise awareness of hazards, explain how health and safety is managed and the part the employee plays, and make your procedures clear. If there are particular risks involved in the employee’s role, it is an opportunity to instil safe working practices. It is important to have these aims in mind when devising your induction.

The content of your induction will depend on the nature of your business and the risks present, but common elements include:

Talking through your Health & Safety Policy

Your Health & Safety Policy is the cornerstone of effective health and safety management, so it’s important that employees are familiar with its contents. It should outline your approach to keeping employees and members of the public safe, as well as the arrangements you have put in place to ensure risk is kept to a minimum.

It’s a good idea to summarise the key points for employees in the form of a Health & Safety Handbook and provide this to employees during their induction. Your handbook should be the go-to health and safety document for employees, outlining all the necessary information they need to carry out their role safely and reduce risk to themselves and others.

Explaining their responsibilities

Remember, in order for you to meet your legal duties, employees must meet theirs.

Section 7 of the HSWA places a legal duty on employees to cooperate with management in all health and safety matters and to take reasonable care for their own health safety and welfare, as well as that of any other person who may be affected by their acts or omissions at work. Your Health & Safety Handbook should clearly explain what is expected of employees and help them to fulfil these duties.

Asking inductees to complete an occupational health and welfare questionnaire

This should form part of your health and safety management system. The questionnaire should relate to the employee’s role and will help to identify any health problems that may make some types of work difficult to do. Make sure all the health risks within the employee’s role are captured.

Giving them a tour of the site

It may seem like common sense, but it’s important not to forget to show employees around the premises, as this will help them to become familiar with the site layout, the location of welfare facilities, and site rules, and is a simple way to get employees used to a new working environment.

Highlighting the specific risks to employees

One of the best ways to raise awareness is to talk employees through the findings of your General Risk Assessment, drawing their attention to any hazardous situations revealed and the control measures in place to protect them.

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Providing job-specific training

If there are specific risks involved in the employee’s role, such as the need to work at height or operate machinery, you must make sure that they understand these risks, are properly trained, and have appropriate safety equipment. Job-specific training will ensure that employees follow a safe system of work while carrying out a particular task.

Conducting a task-specific risk assessment will help you to identify hazards and specific methods of doing the work, which must then be clearly explained to the employee and enforced through good management and proper supervision, especially in the first few months of their employment.

Explaining your accident reporting and recording procedures

New starters will need to know how to report accidents, near misses and dangerous occurrences and who they should report issues to, whether this be their immediate line manager or your responsible person. They may also need to know the location of your accident book depending on whether or not employees are expected to fill this in themselves. (Your accident book can be filled out by anyone, as long as the details are accurate, and it makes sense for someone with first-hand involvement with the incident to write the record).

The procedures that are to be adopted when any employee, visitor or contractor experiences an accident, near-miss or dangerous occurrence should be clearly outlined in your Accident and Investigation Policy and communicated out to everybody, so it’s a good idea to cover this during the induction stage.

Walking through your emergency arrangements

Employees will need to be aware of your arrangements for first aid and how to respond in the event of a fire. This will include pointing out the location of emergency exits and meeting points and explaining how to raise the alarm.

Induction shouldn’t just be reserved for employees. Anyone who works under your control and direction, including self-employed people, contractors and those on work experience, must have received information on the health and safety risks they may face and the measures in place to deal with them. Remember, these people might not be familiar with your working environment and the safety systems you have put in place for regular employees, so it’s important that they are briefed accordingly.

10 top tips when inducting employees

Always take into account the capabilities, training, knowledge and experience of inductees and adapt the induction content or format to meet their specific needs.
Set aside adequate time to do the induction so that you don’t end up rushing through things.
Don’t assume that parts can be skipped because they are ‘common sense’ or assume that inductees have understood; always check before moving on.
Encourage inductees to ask questions and let them know who they should contact if they think of any further questions or have any concerns after the induction.
Show rather than tell. When designing induction training, look for opportunities to demonstrate what you’re talking about and get employees up and doing rather than simply stating facts.
Consider rounding off the induction with a short quiz or some quick-fire questions to confirm that inductees have taken in and understood the information presented.
Give inductees something to take away – whether this be your Health & Safety Handbook or an information sheet briefly outlining the important health and safety rules for staff, your reporting procedures, your emergency arrangements, and the details of key personnel such as supervisors, safety officers, first aiders and fire marshals.
Ask inductees to sign to confirm that they have received and understood the health and safety training, as this will help you to demonstrate the steps you took to keep employees safe should an incident occur.
Use an evaluation form to get inductees’ feedback so that you can continue to improve and expand upon the content of the induction and how it is delivered.
Don’t treat training as a one-off exercise during the induction period. Revisit training whenever employees are exposed to new or increased risks, or where existing skills may have become rusty and need updating.

Final thoughts

Being thrown in at the deep end when starting a new role is not only daunting but will increase the risk of mistakes being made. Without sufficient induction and training on good health and safety practices, misinformation and inadequate knowledge of how to properly deal with workplace hazards may give rise to injuries or even fatalities. With a little time and attention, you can instil the right attitudes and approach from day one, help employees to adjust to their new role more quickly, drive productivity and efficiency, and ultimately create a safe and compliant working environment.

Need support?

If you’re in need of expert guidance on health and safety induction training and how to manage new recruits, our qualified Health & Safety Consultants can work with you to devise your briefing and offer advice on adopting a robust management system.

We also offer a wide range of interactive e-Learning courses, covering topics such as Accident Reporting (RIDDOR), COSHH, Display Screen Equipment, Manual Handling, and Slips, Trips and Falls, which are designed to have a direct impact on your organisation and keep downtime to a minimum by allowing employees to complete training anytime, anywhere.