One in five managers aren’t trained in health and safety


Line managers work on the frontline of a business. They are directly responsible for a team and therefore have obligations for their productivity and output. But line managers are also the first line of defence when it comes to health and safety, and their decisions and responses can have consequences for everyone’s welfare.

However, a survey carried out by IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health) and YouGov has revealed a distinct lack of training when it comes to line managers and health and safety.

Of the 700 decision-makers within small and medium-sized businesses who were questioned, one in five did not provide any kind of health and safety training to their line management. This was particularly the case among SMEs (companies with up to 250 employees).

This suggests that many businesses underestimate or overlook the role of line managers in maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. What is particularly surprising is that 96% of respondents also said that they believed line managers were key in ensuring that staff were kept safe and healthy in the workplace. So, why the lack of training?

The benefits of offering health and safety training

Training equips line managers with the knowledge, understanding and key skills that allow them to accurately assess risk. Working on the frontline also means that they can actively increase participation in a company’s health and safety processes and ensure that best practice is followed on the shop floor.

Failure to properly train line managers in this key area can have very undesirable consequences. For instance, 21% of respondents admitted that investigations into workplace accidents had shown that managerial failure was a contributing factor.

This suggests that training line managers can reduce the risk of accidents, which could have a positive impact on absenteeism. Absenteeism can be very costly for businesses, with a 2017 report by the Centre of Economic and Business Research showing that workplace absence costs the UK economy £18 billion a year due to lost productivity.

Many respondents in this survey agreed that training can have a positive impact on productivity. Thirty-nine per cent of those who offer training reported that they had seen a reduction in downtime from accidents. Another 30% said that their productivity had increased.

Line manager training can also transform a business’ work culture as well as bolster its reputation among customers, suppliers and stakeholders. For instance, 36% of respondents who provided external training reported that their reputation within the supply chain had increased as a result. This can be critical for future business success, as more people are becoming concerned about ethics and want to be assured that the businesses they support have a strong safety performance and past record.

Making an investment

With a strong reputation, reduced downtime and greater productivity, investing in health and safety training can certainly have a positive effect on a business’ bottom line. Indeed, the International Social Security Association estimated that businesses could earn a 120% dividend from investing in workplace safety and health.

Implementing a comprehensive set of health and safety processes and procedures can be a useful way of ensuring that line managers and other workers are adequately trained. An occupational health and safety management system, such as ISO 45001, can help your business to build the necessary framework to develop, implement and maintain these processes, allowing your business to train workers, identify risk and mitigate it.

As an international Standard, ISO 45001 is also instantly recognisable to potential customers around the world and indicates that your business operates best practice when it comes to keeping staff safe and healthy. This could help you to pre-qualify in some tenders or to answer questions on health and safety during the pitching process.

If you would like to find out more about ISO 45001 and how it can make your business more productive, healthy and safe, talk to our team today. Call us on 0333 344 3646 or email [email protected].

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About the author

  • Name:

    Claire Price

  • Company:

    Content Marketing Executive

  • Bio:

    Claire worked for Citation ISO Certification between 2020 and 2022 writing creative and informative content on ISO certification and consultation to help businesses reach their potential.


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