Poorly trained staff are a hazard in any business – a hazard to others, and a hazard to themselves.
Health and safety training courses, however, are often met with resistance and grumbles, and carried out under duress. Toolbox talks are derided, and considered an interruption and a nuisance. Perhaps what is needed first then, is a change in attitude, so that courses are seen as a fundamental part of the working life, just as much as any other task that is undertaken throughout the course of the day.
When we purchase something as simple as a new TV, we spend time getting accustomed to the new controls and options, checking out all the various settings and links to this and that. Similarly, with the latest upgraded mobile phone, we look at all the new features it offers, and make sure we have all the apps and ringtones just as want them.
Why not the same attitude, then, to work equipment and procedures? Why would we rush in to working at height, for example, without making sure we have familiarised ourselves with the “do’s and don’t’s” of working safely? Why are we so unwilling to drag ourselves away from work for fifteen minutes to listen to the safety talk being given by the site supervisor in this week’s toolbox talk, and to read over the safety flyer on the chosen topic? Why are we so reluctant to start the online asbestos awareness refresher course, or the 40-minute fire awareness course – both of which could potentially save our lives – yet we are happy to browse through inane YouTube posts for double the amount of time …..?
We may think that we know it all, or have heard it all before, or that it doesn’t apply to us, but things change over time. There is always something beneficial, however small, to be learnt from a new course, a toolbox talk, or even from that refresher course that seems to come round quicker every year. It could be the one small detail that has been heard a thousand times before, that turns out to be a lifesaver.