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Employers setting higher standards of training

29 April 2015

In an HSM exclusive, NEBOSH chief executive, Teresa Budworth, outlines how more advanced health and safety training courses and qualifications are becoming the norm for general management at work.

There was a time when courses leading to health and safety qualifications were almost exclusively for those who wished to follow a career in occupational safety and health. However, it is increasingly becoming an employer requirement for all staff to have a more thorough, underpinning knowledge of health and safety.


As many as 82% of students who successfully complete the NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety are employed in roles that are not primarily health and safety management. Airline cabin crew, mechanical engineers and operating theatre practitioners are just some of the roles held by students undertaking courses leading to NEBOSH qualifications.


‘Massively important’


Thames Water recently initiated a general management training programme to ensure that all 500 of its managers gained the NEBOSH National General Certificate.


Karl Simons, Thames Water’s head of Health, Safety and Wellbeing, explained: "When it comes to achieving a safe system of work, we rely heavily on our managers and, as such, we believe they must have a very high level of health and safety knowledge and understanding.”


Karl added that he believed the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, which makes it possible for companies and organisations to be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures, has been partly responsible for a shift in training focus.


"Given where the UK is in terms of legislation and the accountability that is placed upon decision makers within organisations, we have to ensure managers have an appropriate level of reputable health and safety training,” he noted.


More knowledgeable


With more than 500 events hosted a year, the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham also recognises the value of having a health and safety qualified workforce. All NEC event managers are required to hold the NEBOSH National General Certificate and the NEBOSH National Certificate in Fire Safety and Risk Management.


NEC event manager, Emily Burkes, explained: "The courses help you to spot more potential problems and give you the tools to deal with them properly. We are more knowledgeable and more effective with it. I think we’re also more respected as a result of being qualified, particularly when working with organisers on site who bring in their own safety representatives.


"There’s health and safety in everything now, in industries of all types, and higher level training is important in any role.”


Occupational health and safety has become a core skill for management and now for many employers it forms part of their higher level training need embedding competence throughout the workplace.