Providing information, training, instruction or supervision for workers
Under the Health and Safety at Work (General Risk and Workplace Management) Regulations 2016 (the GRWM Regulations), a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the information, training, instruction and supervision provided to workers is suitable and adequate. This fact sheet outlines aspects PCBUs could think about when deciding what information, training, instruction and/or supervision to provide.
Think about what the information, training, instruction and/or supervision should cover
Different work activities can require different levels of information, training, instruction or supervision. Certain work activities require higher levels of training or supervision for workers and others in the workplace to remain healthy and safe.
Examples of work that may require higher levels of information, training, instruction or supervision are:
- working in confined spaces
- working at heights
- working with substances hazardous to health
- remote or isolated work.
You must engage with workers when making decisions about procedures for providing information and training to workers.
You must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, those who carry out work of any kind, use plant of any kind, or deal with a substance of any kind that is capable of causing a risk in a workplace:
- either have adequate knowledge or experience of similar work so they are not likely to cause harm to themselves or other people or are supervised by someone who has the relevant knowledge and experience, and
- are adequately trained in the safe use of all plant, objects, substances, or equipment the workers are or may be required to handle, as well as all personal protective equipment (PPE) that the workers are or may be required to wear or use.
Training should be tailored and fit for purpose – it should NOT be a tick in the box exercise.
To work out what training (which includes the provision of information or instruction) or supervision should cover think about:
- the nature of the work carried out by the worker (eg what is the worker being asked to do? what is your workplace like in general?)
- the nature of the risk associated with the work at the time the supervision or training is provided (eg what kind of risks are there?)
- the control measures implemented in relation to the work that the worker is undertaking (eg what control measures are there already?).
- what your workplace is physically like (eg is it a quiet office, a busy workshop, a construction site with lots of workers and members of the public nearby?)
- what your work involves (eg what machinery, equipment, PPE and substances are used? what are the control measures in place?)
- your workers (eg what is their level and depth of experience?)
- what the known work risks are.
Using this information work out what skills, knowledge and experience your workers will need to work safely. This includes what information and training is required for dealing with emergencies.
Now work out what training, instruction, information or supervision will be needed for workers to gain the skills, knowledge or experience to work safely. The following prompts will help you to decide how to best deliver adequate and suitable training, instruction, information or supervision to workers.
Think about when the training, instruction or supervision should occur
Work out when training/supervision will be required and how you will set aside enough time for this to occur (given the nature and risks involved in the work). For example:
- will new inexperienced workers be intensively supervised until they are shown to be competent to carry out the tasks unsupervised?
- will new inexperienced workers be comprehensively trained for all tasks they may need to carry out in one go, or will they be trained/supervised on a task-by-task basis as needed?
- will experienced workers only be supervised for new tasks for the first time?
Think how you will alert supervisors/trainers/workers when specific training/supervision is required before starting certain tasks.
Think about how you can alert workers when certain tasks require training/supervision (eg will you have warning signs on machinery or at workstations?).
Think about how best to carry out the training, instruction or supervision
You must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the training and information provided is readily understandable by any person it is provided to.
Trainers and supervisors of workers should be competent. They can be in-house or from external organisations.
Think about the best method of delivering training, instruction or supervision. Consider your workers’ age and experience, their first language, any cultural differences and the potential level of understanding of the workers.
For example, if some of your workers find it difficult to read, information or training may need to be provided orally, or through pictures or demonstrations. They may also need to be supported by a buddy or supervisor.
- what level of experience/competence your trainers or supervisors need to have
- if your workers have previous experience with the work
- if your workers have poor literacy or English as a second language
- if your workers learn better one-to-one or in a group
- if the training/instruction should be paper, audio-visual or computer-based (including using tablets or smartphones)
- if there are relevant formal qualifications your workers could obtain (eg unit standards from NZQA)
- how you will get your workers to show they understand
- how you could provide daily reminders of safe work practices (eg SOPs, posters or flash cards summarising the key points kept at work stations, toolbox meetings) once the formal training is completed.
Think about how to tell the providers of the training/instruction/supervision what it must cover
Think about how to tell supervisors/trainers/workers what the training should always cover or how supervision needs to be carried out.
Think about how you can tell:
- supervisors what they need to do (eg will you have documented procedures?)
- trainers what training is required during new worker inductions and for certain tasks (eg will you have documented training procedures or checklists of points to be covered during training?).
Think about how workers can show they understand the training and instruction, and are competent to carry out the task
Think about how workers can demonstrate that they understand the training, instruction or information you provide, and are competent to carry out the task.
Also think about how often to check all your workers, no matter how experienced, remain competent on an ongoing basis.
Think about whether your workers will:
- take written, verbal or practical tests to show their understanding and competence at the end of the initial training
- be randomly observed by the trainer to confirm competence.
Think about how you will know what training has occurred
You are not required to keep training records – but they are useful to show what training has taken place and when refresher training is needed (see below). Records can also provide you assurance that you are effectively managing risks.
Think about whether:
- you will keep written or electronic records of the training occurred (eg a training register/log)
- training will be documented to the worker’s personnel records.
Think about when refresher training should occur
It’s easy for bad habits to slip into work practices. Consider what refresher training is required, and how often, to ensure your workers are still following safe work practices.
- how often all your workers will need to be reminded about good safe practices
- what the refresher training should cover (eg will it be a repeat of the complete training or just key points).
Think about how you will ensure that the training/supervision is still adequate and sufficient, and managing risks
Training/supervision programmes should be regularly reviewed to ensure the training/supervision remains up-to-date and adequate.
Think about reviewing, and if needed updating, training/supervision programmes when:
- there is a change to the workplace (eg new equipment or processes introduced)
- new control measures are added or existing ones changed to manage new risks
- you find out that control measures aren’t managing the risks (eg an incident occurs or from monitoring results)
- your workers/trainers/supervisors tell you there are gaps or errors in the training/ supervision programme.