Health and Safety Training Challenges?

blog 37
July 9, 2019

Health and Safety Training Challenges?

While I understand and support ‘raising the bar’ for training, it is a concern that we could be leaving a large group behind. As we move to a greater focus on evidence of competency traditional means of on-job training are less adequate, many companies are likely to struggle with change.

The idea that we can hold the large companies in New Zealand to a higher standard of expectation for training and that they will in time bring the smaller companies up with them may be flawed. New Zealand has a high percentage of small businesses with a large group of them having no relationship with those large companies. Some of the ideas such as Unit Standard based training and 3 yearly refreshers may be achievable for large companies who have enough staff to make a course viable can be logistically and financially difficult for small businesses in the smaller centres.

Increasingly WorkSafe are stating in their Best Practice Guidelines requirements for training, however I wonder if it’s naive to believe that stating means it’s going to happen across the board.

Expectations for hazardous substances training changed significantly in December 2017 with the introduction of the HSWA Hazardous Substances Regulations. Now 18 months on I suspect many businesses don’t even know that there has been a change. I have sympathy for Compliance Certifiers who, as a group, must be faced with the challenge of explaining that they can’t issue a Compliance Certificate until these requirements have been met. Clearly suppliers of substances have some level of responsibility to assist clients, but the duty isn’t theirs and so many have been slow to upgrade their training material to meet the new expectations.

To give WorkSafe credit, the training material available on their website for substances such as petrol is excellent, however the training covers a very small range of substances taking into consideration the number in use. I would also question whether getting workers to read this material would be considered adequate if a worker handling petrol was to have a serious accident.

We make sellers and suppliers of hazardous substances provide access to information in the form of Safety Data Sheets so perhaps part of the solution is to have them provide training material on the substances they sell. I recognise that companies would still need to add their relevant information, but it would be a start.

There are still lots of issues, and answers and practical solutions are harder to find. That’s not my intention, however there is a need to recognise the issue and start looking for solutions. The solutions need to be simple and cost effective for them to ever work in many New Zealand businesses.

At Avid Plus we believe part of the solution may be moving towards using electronic training modules, short, specific and in a format that younger workers feel comfortable with. If you’re interested in finding out more go to