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Training [Aug 2011]

Published: 01st Aug 2011

Demand for formal health and safety training has grown rapidly in the Middle East and Africa in recent years, according to Teresa Budworth, Chief Executive of health, safety and environmental examinations body NEBOSH. For this feature, Teresa explains how everyone in the workplace can benefit from some basic health and safety training, and looks at the training and qualification needs of health and safety professionals.

Developing a career in health and safety increasingly means holding a recognised qualification. Research shows that more than nine out of ten recruitment advertisements for health and safety managers require those applying to hold a suitable qualification, or to have achieved relevant professional status such as CMIOSH (Chartered Membership of IOSH).

This requirement for qualifications has certainly fuelled demand for formal training in the Middle East and Africa in recent years. The number of people taking training courses and registering to take qualifications in the Middle East has grown by more than 40% in the past 24 months.

While a great deal of this demand for qualifications in both the Middle East and Africa comes from those seeking a long term career in health and safety, it is noticeable that many other people, who have different roles and responsibilities, are also seeking formal health and safety training.

Take Ali El Farouki for example, Business Development Manager at DMM, a company that owns and operates two land based oil rigs in Algeria in North Africa. His main responsibilities are accounting, human resources and managing business relationships. However, Ali, who is part?of a successful Jordanian family with several business interests around the world, also recognises that health and safety is important, particularly in the oil and gas industry.

Wishing to develop his knowledge, he took a pre-entry level course last year, leading to an award in Health and Safety at Work. Ali said it was five days well spent, and that since taking the course he has felt more confident dealing with health and safety issues at work.

However, what is most interesting about his brief period of formal training is the way Ali believes the things he learned about risk assessment and management have impacted on his whole approach to doing business.

He said the course made him see that risk management could be "incredibly useful" not only for safety, but "in all areas of doing business." Ali now uses a process of risk evaluation and control in all areas he is responsible for, and being a businessman he has started developing other opportunities since taking his course.

For example, he is aware that some parts of the world are not up to speed with health, safety and environmental management, so he is looking at ways of improving standards through training and consultancy provisions in parts of the Middle East.

Details of course - benefits for your organisation

The new introductory qualification mentioned above is an international qualification and will benefit organisations that are seeking to implement a health and safety management system. It will ensure their workforce, and in particular supervisory staff, can apply the principles of risk assessment and control of common workplace hazards.

Upskilling your workforce in risk assessment can help reduce the number of accidents in the workplace, improving staff morale, and resulting in costs savings for the business.

The three day course programme can be run in a number of flexible formats to fit around your business needs; either in-house or at training centres around the globe.

The practical assessment format means that delegates will start putting their learning into practice in the workplace right away.

Who should take the course?

The introductory qualification is aimed at anyone who needs to understand the principles of health and safety as part of their job.

These people may be:

• Team leaders and supervisors

• HR professionals

• Facilities managers

• Those working with young people in a training environment

What does the course cover?

The three day course covers risk assessments and ways to control common workplace hazards such as fire, lifting and carrying, work equipment, electrical safety, hazardous substances and transport.

How is the course assessed?

Students take a multiple choice examination and a practical risk assessment which tests the ability to put into practice the knowledge gained during the course.

The assessment may be taken in English, Welsh, Arabic, Mandarin or Russian.

Risk assessment training

Ali El Farouki's experience highlights an important training need for all personnel in all workplaces - a need for a basic understanding of risk assessments, how they work and why they need to be carried out.

Risk assessment training can be a daunting prospect for anyone tasked with providing it. After all, the risk assessment process can appear complicated to those lacking any basic knowledge of health and safety.

Technically, risk assessments are about identifying situations that could lead to injury or illness, and then deciding how likely it is such injury or illness might occur. Once the relevant hazards have been identified and the risks weighed up, it's a matter of deciding how the hazards can be eliminated or controlled.

Trainers need to explain this process in every day terms, using simple real life situations as examples. Crossing a busy road is something that most of us do every day, and when we do it we all carry out a very basic risk assessment. We ensure the road is clear and that it is safe to cross.

All of the elements of risk assessments are there - hazard spotting, evaluating risks and taking action to eliminate or control risks. It isn't complicated.

Explaining risk assessment in these terms can help make health and safety more simple, and crucially, can help ensure the entire workforce is involved.

Involving everyone

Employees and supervising staff have a key role when it comes to hazard spotting and risk evaluation. Hazards generally arise from features of the workplace - machinery, equipment or premises, for example - and from things that happen in the workplace, such as the activities or the things that people do. To properly identify hazards, those who operate the machinery, use the equipment and carry out and manage day to day tasks should be consulted.

They should understand that risk assessments are about dealing with significant risks - things that are likely to cause serious injury, harm or death, or which may often lead to minor injuries.

By becoming involved in the process and understanding it, it is likely that employees will continue to hazard-spot and take action to eliminate risks. In other words, this basic training can do much to instil a health and safety culture within an organisation and can significantly reduce accidents.

Employers ought to be aware that many people believe that health and safety is complicated. UK research carried out in 2005 for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found employees were often confused by health and safety 1. They see it as excessive amounts of information about legislation, regulations and requirements. They find health and safety difficult to understand and as a result believe it's something for senior management to deal with, not them.

This is a big problem. Because when day to day staff, supervisors and line managers are actually involved in and understand health and safety, the impact on accident rates can be dramatic.

Around ten years ago the HSE published research by the Health & Safety Laboratory 2. The study highlighted 12 different workplaces where major improvements in health and safety had been made through worker involvement. One company found that accident rates fell by more than 90% just by encouraging staff to report anything potentially dangerous. Another found that accidents were halved after staff were trained to spot hazards at work.

For me, the most important piece in the jigsaw when it comes to involving workers in risk assessment is training. Simple practical training for line managers and staff which focuses on the risk assessment process is required.

Risk assessment training can help to change employee attitudes to health and safety. Staff discover that health?and safety is not about vast amounts of information concerning legislation, regulations and requirements. They realise it is not about excessive measures designed to stop people from getting on with their jobs. Most importantly they learn the fundamentals of health and safety - simple, sensible ways of keeping people safe and healthy at work. Nothing too complicated.

Having a qualification that demonstrates this knowledge can be rewarding for staff and can show the outside world that health and safety is taken seriously in your place of work.

Health and safety professionals

This leads to the training and qualification needs of those who have full time responsibility for health and safety in their workplace. As mentioned earlier, our research in the UK suggests that less than one in ten businesses are prepared to employ a health and safety manager who has not received formal training and achieved a suitable qualification.

For around one in five, a NEBOSH Certificate level qualification is suitable. However, almost half (44%) require their manager to hold either a NEBOSH Diploma or its equivalent. Our Diploma level qualifications are the equivalent of a British university degree.

This makes the training needs of anyone seeking a career as a health and safety professional very clear. Following a path of formal training and qualifications to the achieve point where professional status, such as CMIOSH (Chartered Membership of IOSH) is almost essential now.

Further development

However, what about those who are already fully qualified and enjoying a full time role as a health and safety manager? What are their training needs, other than what is required to maintain a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) record?

For me, a clue lies in the ever expanding nature of the role of health and safety managers. A study this year found that when it came to job titles and responsibilities, health and safety managers had other, more diverse accountabilities at work. Almost two-thirds (62%) of health and safety positions in the UK include responsibility for environmental management, up from 55% 12 months earlier. Job titles and responsibilities also included ‘quality’, ‘facilities’, ‘risk management’, ‘assurance’ and ‘wellbeing’.

I believe that to stand out from the crowd and perform better in their ever expanding roles, health and safety managers need to seek out further training and qualifications in the broader spectrum of risk management. This might include formal training in environmental management and other specialist areas such as fire safety, for example.

To further differentiate themselves and to become even more valued in their organisations, they could go a step further by gaining other business related qualifications to show greater understanding of wider operational issues.

We can all learn from Ali El Farouki. His pursuit of knowledge which falls outside of his main area of responsibility has in his words "opened his eyes" to other ways of doing things, made him more effective in his role and inspired him to seek out new opportunities.

For some, formal training is a means to an end. It leads to a qualification that provides them with a job and that is the end of it. But whatever kind of role we occupy, I believe there is always something new, interesting and useful to learn. Those genuinely seeking self improvement understand that learning, and therefore training, should never stop.

References

1 Obstacles preventing worker involvement in health and safety - http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr296.pdf

2 Employee Involvement in Health and Safety: Some Examples of Good Practice - http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/hsl_pdf/2001/employ-i.pdf

Author

Teresa Budworth, NEBOSH Chief Executive

Teresa Budworth is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner, Fellow of IOSH and a Chartered Director. During a 30 year career in health and safety she has specialised in safety consultancy, working with a number of boards of directors on implementing safety governance within large and diverse organisations.

Her work on competence, education and training culminated in her appointment as Chief Executive of NEBOSH, the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health, in 2006.

Prior to joining NEBOSH, Teresa combined management of Norwich Union Risk Service’s Consultancy operation with her post as a non executive Director and Trustee of NEBOSH, and was Senior Examiner for Diploma Part One from its inception in 1997.

She is a Visiting Senior Teaching Fellow and member of the Examination Board for post graduate courses in Occupational Health at the University of Warwick’s Medical School. She is a member of RoSPA’s National Occupational Safety and Health Committee and also serves on the judging panel for RoSPA’s annual occupational safety and health awards.

About NEBOSH

NEBOSH (National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health) was formed in 1979 and is an independent examining board and awarding body with charitable status. It offers a comprehensive range of globally recognised, vocationally related qualifications designed to meet the health, safety, environmental and risk management needs of all places of work in both the private and public sectors.

Courses leading to NEBOSH qualifications attract around 30,000 candidates annually and are offered by more than 400 course providers in 80 countries around the world. Their qualifications are recognised by the relevant professional membership bodies including the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management (IIRSM) and the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA).

NEBOSH examinations and assessments are set by its professionally qualified staff assisted by external examiners, most of whom are Chartered Safety and Health Practitioners operating within industry, the public sector or in enforcement.

Their technical standards are overseen by a Qualification and Technical Council with representatives drawn from national institutions.

In October 2000, NEBOSH became the first health and safety awarding body to receive recognition from the Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator (Ofqual, previously QCA) in England, the Department for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills (DCELLS) in Wales and the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) in Northern Ireland.

In August 2009, NEBOSH received Approved Awarding Body status from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) in Scotland.

In addition, NEBOSH maintains Investors in People (IIP) status and is also an ISO 9001:2008 registered organisation.

W: www.nebosh.org.uk E: executive@nebosh.rg.uk T: +44 (0) 1162 634700

www.osedirectory.com/health-and-safety.php

Published: 1st Aug 2011 in Health and Safety Middle East

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