Safety qualification raising standards across the board
23 January 2013
From a young persons' charity to a social housing association, the rising popularity of the British Safety Council's Level 1 award is leading to widespread health and safety success As part of its charitable mission, the
As part of its charitable mission, the British Safety Council is offering 100 free examinations leading to the level 1 award in health and safety at work to its member organisations each calendar year.
The level 1 award, which is QCF accredited, is also available free of charge for all UK based schools, colleges and other organisations working with young people in full-time education, as well as organisations working with those not in education, employment or training (NEET). These include public and private training providers, the prison and probation service and other charities and institutions.
One such organisation to take up the British Safety Council's offer is Rathbone, a national charity that provides opportunities for young people to transform their life by re-engaging with learning, discovering their ability to succeed and achieving progression to further education, training and employment.
Rathbone has more than 70 centres throughout the UK and in 2008/2009 the organisation worked with more than 17,000 young people to help them achieve qualifications.
Each young person that comes to Rathbone undertakes the British Safety Council's level 1 award in health and safety at work as part of their induction process and it is a pre-cursor before they go out on a work placement.
Kath Farrant, a centre manager at Rathbone, says the organisation looked at a number of health and safety qualifications before choosing the British Safety Council's level 1 award. "We decided to deliver the level 1 qualification because we felt it was the most appropriate for young people," she explains.
Rathbone has had almost 200 young people complete the assessment since January and has achieved a 95% pass rate. Even the staff have been through it and Kath says the feedback from the course has been very positive. "It's brilliant because it gives people an awareness and greater understanding of health and safety in the workplace, and this will help them when they go on their placement." She adds: "It's a great selling point for young people going into a new or first job because the qualification will look good on their CV to prospective employers. I think it's very important for young people to have a basic knowledge of health and safety when they go into work and it's invaluable for employers." Rathbone is delighted with the service it has received from the British Safety Council and will continue delivering the level 1 award to all young people who come through its doors.
"I would recommend the British Safety Council's level 1 qualification to other companies and I have done so," says Kath. "When we send our applications in for the people who will sit the examination, we always get an email acknowledging our application, which is very helpful. The tests are delivered on time and the certificates are all sent out efficiently. It's a very positive experience." Rathbone aren't the only happy customers; over in Northern Ireland, Ark Housing Association has been reaping the benefits of the free qualification. Business services manager for Ark, Vincent Lavery is trying to affect a health, safety and environmental sea change across Northern Ireland's social housing sector.
Read some of the statistics on the number of housing officers injured at work, and you soon realise why housing associations cannot afford to treat health and safety as a "wee bolt-on". According to figures from the HSE obtained by sector-specialist magazine Inside Housing, major injuries and those requiring more than three days off work numbered 94 in 2002/03. By 2008/09 that number had more than doubled to 206.
In order to keep improving the safety culture at Ark "we took the business decision that every member of staff would be trained to level 1," Vincent says. And by every member of staff, he means everyone from the chairman of the board to the cleaner.
And so it was that they brought the British Safety Council on board. The association, which views its commitment to social responsibility as seriously as its safety and environmental duties, is now a health and safety training centre for smaller housing associations, delivering the British Safety Council's training programmes to others.
Rathbone and Ark Housing Association may have used the level 1 in different ways and with different people but at the heart of each was the commitment to achieving excellent health and safety practice.