Communication and Training
Communicating on health and safety issues is vital for all dental environments regardless of the size of the organisation or the number of people employed. Communication throughout all levels demonstrates a commitment from employers and management in developing policies to achieve a positive health and safety culture. The communication process should enable all members of the team to consult on safe working practices. It helps identify areas where they may need training in order to achieve competence and take an active role in the assessment and control of risks. Effective communication is achieved by a clear, straightforward and unambiguous transfer of information which allows for feedback and involvement of all internal and external parties.
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list; there are a range of regulations which contain a requirement for training to be provided and/or competence to be demonstrated. Listed below are a selection of legal requirements.
- Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974:
Employers have a general duty to provide such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonable, the health and safety at work of employees.
- Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977:
If an employer recognises trade unions, the union will appoint a safety representative who will consult with the employer on matters affecting employees. If at least two safety representatives request in writing that a safety committee be formed, the employer must establish the committee within three months of the request.
- The Health and Safety (Consultation with employees) Regulations 1996:
Where employees are not represented by safety representatives under The Safety Representative and Safety Committees Regulations 1977, the employer is required to consult with employees on matters relating to their health and safety at work.
- The Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004:
Requires employers of larger organisations, where more than 50 people are employed, to make or amend arrangements to inform and consult the workforce on issues which affect them.
- The Health and Safety Information for Employees (Amendment) Regulations 2009:
Employers are required to ensure that each employee has easy access to the approved poster or leaflet, telling them what they need to know about health and safety, and how they can obtain the name and address of the ‘local’ enforcing authority and the address of employment medical advisory service (EMAS). The 1989 existing unrevised poster can be displayed (providing the information is kept up to date) for up to 5 years (until 2014).
- Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Regulations 1998:
Employers must make available their certificate of liability insurance at their place of business. It can either be displayed in a prominent place or stored electronically providing it can be retrieved and made available to those who may request to see it.
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999:
Employers are required to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to which employees are exposed to help determine the extent of health and safety training to be provided.
- Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (as amended 2002):
Employers are required to ensure that employees are provided with adequate information, instruction and training so they can make effective use of the PPE in order to protect them against workplace hazards.
- Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 (as amended 2002):
Where a person is a ‘user’ employers are required to provide adequate health and safety training in the use of the workstation.
- Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended 2002):
Employers should provide specific information and training as is necessary to ensure that manual handling tasks are carried out safely therefore reducing the risk of injury.
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002:
Where employees may be exposed to hazardous substances the employer must provide information, instruction and training on the risk to health and precautions that must be taken/implemented.
- Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999:
Employers are required to provide information, instruction and training to all employees involved in the work with ionising radiation, this applies to all people who may be affected. Information, instruction and training should include the risks to health and the precautions that must be taken.
- The Health and Safety (Training for Employment) Regulations 1990:
Anyone receiving relevant training (work experience provided as part of a training course or programme, or training for employment or both) should be treated as employees for the purposes of health and safety legislation (source: Health and Safety Executive).
All of these play a part in communicating health and safety and each serves a distinct purpose. However, all are aimed at raising awareness, developing knowledge and understanding, assisting in improving safe working practices and facilitating adherence to policies and procedures.
- Providing factual data to people about health and safety measures
- Telling people what they can and cannot do
- Helping people to learn and acquire skills to carry out a particular task
- Ensuring the protection of individuals by providing direction, advice, support and guidance
Information, instruction, training and supervision should be embedded into your day-to-day activities through a planned and structured communication process.
The communication process should be an integral part of your health and safety management system. It should include both internal and external people and is relevant when recruiting and selecting staff and when contracting external parties. This helps to demonstrate your commitment to the health, safety, welfare and well-being of all persons on whom your business depends. External parties may be your patients, visitors to the practice or those who you have formed a working contract with. You must ensure that all persons are suitably, appropriately and effectively informed about any health and safety issues that may affect them (specific issues relating to visitors, locums and contractors are covered in Chapter 21).
Methods of Communicating Health and Safety
An effective method of communicating health and safety is vital to the relationships between employer and employee and anyone else who might be affected. Effective communication helps to manage attitudes and behaviour. In Chapter 17 we have identified how the health and safety policy can be communicated; here, we will cover other means of communication.
- Health and safety promotion campaigns – periodic, routine events addressing topical issues. The use of display boards in public areas, for example, in a waiting room, is a useful resource to highlight the key points and attract interest.
- Practice meetings – a planned process where every member of the team actively contributes. Individuals in turn could be given a specific topic (as set out and arranged for in Part 3 of your policy) to explore and reflect on and provide any updates. Meetings should be held at least monthly with an agenda that clearly reflects the needs of the practice.
- Employee representatives/champions – it may be appropriate or legally required to elect a health and safety representative. This person must be provided with suitable resources in order to carry out his/her duties competently and effectively.
- Posters, signs and notices – appropriately sighted, informing and raising awareness of health and safety issues or instructing people on what they must or must not do. Certain posters and notices are legally required to be displayed or made available for people to view, for example, the Health and Safety Law – what you need to know poster and the Employers Liability Insurance Certificate.
- Practice newsletter – addressing any updates to legislation and working practices, recognising particular achievements and good news stories.
- Presentations – the use of films and slides is useful to provide a more visual approach. They can be used as part of a training programme or to create discussion at meetings.
A combination of the methods mentioned has proved to be most effective in raising awareness as opposed to just using one method in isolation.
Health and safety training is required by law. Several legislative requirements which state that a person must be trained to deal with the hazard presented have been listed earlier. In addition, there is a range of other reasons for training your staff in health and safety.
- Enhance knowledge and develop practical skills enabling individuals to carry out their duties safely in compliance with legislation and professional standards.
- Create a positive safety culture that influences behaviour and attitude toward/>