One-fifth do not train line managers in health and safety

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One in five organisations do not train their managers in health and safety, despite the view that they are often based placed to recognise and act on hazards.

A survey commissioned by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) found 96% of company decision makers agreed that line managers had an important role in ensuring the people who report to them are safe and healthy yet, despite this high showing, nearly a fifth (19%) conceded their organisations failed to train line managers in health and safety.

Twenty-one per cent said management failure had contributed to an accident happening at work. Conversely, 25% felt management failure was rarely responsible for accidents.

Most of the organisations that did not upskill line managers in health and safety competence were SMEs, IOSH said.

“As with all risk, management are accountable for delivering a safe workforce and performance – first-line managers for ensuring controls are implemented and middle managers for providing the resources to deliver controls and the leadership for setting direction,” said IOSH’s head of advice and practice, Duncan Spencer.

“Our survey suggests that the vast majority of businesses recognise that this is the case but it is worrying that so many don’t train their line managers in health and safety. Without this training, how do these line managers know how to properly assess is something could cause an accident or could harm someone’s health? How can they know what they need to do if there is a health and safety risk?”

Spencer reminded organisations that health and safety training and awareness was crucial as staff returned to work following the coronavirus lockdown.

Of those that did invest in health and safety training for managers, 82% said it had delivered benefits for the business – for example, a customer favouring their company over competitors because it demonstrated a positive health and safety culture.

Almost two in five (39%) that had used an external training course reported a reduction in lost time due to accidents, while 79% said the safety awareness culture across their organisation had improved. Thirty per cent saw increased productivity, due to fewer accidents.

The YouGov survey covered 698 health and safety decision-makers.

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