Develop and deliver WHS training Workplace health and safety initiatives are at the core all about the protection of people. People that either work for you or in some way are working on your premises. Any WHS policies and procedures are limited in their effectiveness if they are not seen as relevant or important in the eyes of those they are established to protect. This is both a question of organisational culture and individual commitment.
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Workplace health and safety is a highly legislated area of business and to be effective any WHS approach needs to be highly tailored to individual business contexts.
The work we have done so far enables the preparation of WHS policies and procedures as appropriate to the individual business or store. It is now time to consider how to bring all staff members, not just those who have been part of the consultation process, on board to connect them with what they can do to minimise WHS risk to themselves and others in the course of their daily role.
Helping them develop the skills and knowledge that will enable them to work more safely is one element, inspiring them to care enough to do so is another.
Effective WHS management plans must ensure everyone working in the business is trained in WHS and is able to undertake their work in a manner that is safe and without risk to health and safety. This means a certain level of financial investment in the training and development of staff both at induction and beyond.
When developing any training program it is essential to go back to the beginning and consider:
- What are the training needs of staff?
- How can the training needs be fulfilled?
- How can the training effectiveness be monitored?
Another important consideration is how can diversity be accommodated in training? The question of diversity includes considerations of learning style preference, learning capacity and language proficiency. It also considers the level of experience of staff, some may require training on the use of certain equipment, and others may not as they are already proficient.
Training must ideally always have a purpose that is easy to identify and an intended outcome that is easy to measure.
Examples of potential WHS training in retail include:
- Induction training
- WHS committee training
- First Aid qualifications
- Equipment operation
- Safe use of chemical substances
- Emergency procedures
When mapping what to train and who requires the training as part of a training needs analysis it can be valuable to develop a matrix that allows for an extermination of:
- What a staff member needs to understand to do their job safely and without risk to themselves or others
- How training will be incorporated in work practices
- Whether staff have the equipment and resources to use what they learn about OHS in the workplace
- How staff will be supported, mentored and supervised whilst in the workplace
- How staff progress will be reviewed and evaluated to ensure they have the knowledge and skills to follow required processes
The outcome should be a robust learning and development plan, based on research and linked to business, team and individual objectives.
At the most basic level all WHS training must allow staff to understand:
- The hazards of their work
- How to notify their WHS representative of identified hazards
- The roles of WHS representatives and other WHS initiatives such as committees
- How to follow WHS procedures applicable to their workplace
- Their specific WHS responsibilities
At a supervisory or management level the requirement for WHS training increases and may include extensive additional content that enables them to:
- Recognise hazards in the workplace and conduct WHS inspections
- Select and apply appropriate risk control measures
- Investigate incidents or dangerous occurrences
- Conduct effective on-the-job training
- Ensure employees understand and follow workplace procedures
- Assist the employer to comply with provisions of the Act and Regulations
- WHS legislation as relevant to their state including the appropriate WHS management systems
- Assigning Health and Safety roles and functions
Deliver WHS training
When planning to deliver training for workplace health and safety emphasis needs to be placed upon ensuring the people who most need the training get it in the format best suited to them at the time that is most impactful.
The priority question to address is:
What skills and knowledge are required to enable all employees to do their jobs safely and without risks to health?
Beyond that it is a question of effectiveness and efficiency:
- Who will conduct and be responsible for the training rollout?
- Are there any existing training initiatives that reduce the need for additional WHS training? i.e. existing First Aid training
- Who has previously taken part in WHS training? Are there existing training records?
- Is WHS included in induction training for new, transferred and promoted staff?
- Does WHS legislation prescribe certain training relevant to your business?
- How can training be delivered to accommodate language and literacy needs?
- How can the effectiveness of training be assessed
A training plan is the master document for any training initiative. It details both the big picture of training purpose and desired outcomes and outlines the individual training activities, workshops and solutions that make up the overall plan. Each training activity can then be expanded into a delivery or session plan.
This can be highly detailed work considering:
- How much time is required for each training program
- How many staff need to go through each program
- When and where will each be delivered
- Who will deliver each training program
- How training be structures
- Which resources will be required to support training and enhance your target audience’s understanding?
- How can training effectiveness be measured
- What costs are involved in each program
To support the rollout of WHS training all store managers and supervisors need to be on board to provide physical and psychological support to their staff. Scheduling time off the floor for training, rearranging rosters and conducting training offsite or after hours are just some of the adjustments store management teams may be asked to make to support WHS training.
However it works in your context it must be stressed that WHS is a priority not just a compliance issue. Store leaders set the tone for the culture of the store, if they embrace and speak positively of WHS initiatives, store teams are far more likely to take on a similar attitude.
Consult with staff on WHS policy and issues
All WHS legislation, regardless of the state of territory in which it is endorsed requires employers to consult with their staff about workplace health and safety. This gives them the opportunity to contribute to decisions affecting their health, safety and welfare. It also allows them to make a valuable contribution to the safety of their workplace are they are often far better placed than management to recognise and highlight both hazards and possible controls.
Promoting a two way consultation process is beneficial to all because:
- There can develop an improved understanding of problems by both employers and employees
- Staff can develop expertise and knowledge of health and safety in the workplace
- It provides the opportunity to develop more, and possibly better, solutions to problems because of the wider range of views involved
- The process provides an opportunity to transfer ownership of WHS solutions to those most affected by them. This reduces any problems created by any potential to resist change
- There are opportunities to reach a co-operative resolution to WHS issues as employees from different areas of the business are represented.
Ideally, consultation occurs at every step in the WHS management process including when policies and procedures are being developed. PCBUs, WHS representatives and staff impacted by workplace health and safety should be included in the consultation process to ensure a broad-based representation.
The requirements of consultation may have specifics as outlines in relevant state legislation so it is important for retailers to be up to date with how legislation impacts the consultation process within their business.
About ARA Retail Institute
ARA Retail Institute is Australia’s leading retail training provider for both accredited and non-accredited learning programs. For more information, please visit: www.retailinstitute.org.au