Instruction and training
- Instruction and training help to prevent accidents and the development and aggravation of illnesses caused by work.
- An employee shall be notified of potentially dangerous situations and the rules for documenting them.
- After instruction, the employee shall receive training to acquire safe work techniques.
An average of 10 occupational accidents occur in Estonia every day, a fifth of all occupational accidents have serious consequences, and we lose almost a million working hours a year! This is often due to lack of training and instruction, non-compliance with the requirements introduced during instruction and problems with designating and selecting employees responsible for occupational health and safety.
An organisation that values the employees’ health and the profitability of the enterprise has:
- well-thought-out and organised instruction and training;
- designated a working environment specialist who organises occupational health and safety activities in accordance with the requirements of legislation;
- elected a representative of employees in matters related to the working environment, i.e. a working environment representative;
- identified, assessed and inspected the hazards in the working environment, i.e. prepared a risk assessment; prepared safety instructions based on the risk assessment of the working environment for the work performed and work equipment used; regulated the use of personal protective equipment;
- organised medical examinations for employees by an occupational health doctor;
- defined a system for managing the working environment, i.e. how internal control is carried out; a good safety culture, i.e. the way things are done.
Not only is the employer responsible for ensuring a safe working environment, employees shall also participate in developing it. The latter mainly contributes to it by adhering to the requirements of occupational health and safety and using work methods that do not endanger his or her own life or the lives of his or her colleagues.
In order for the employee to be aware of the risks in the work environment and to be able to avoid and reduce them, he or she needs instruction and training.
Instruction and training
Instruction and training on occupational health and safety play an important role in creating a safe and effective working environment. It is the foundation for preventive action, helping to prevent accidents and the development and aggravation of illnesses caused by work.
Thoroughly planned and expertly conducted instruction and training of employees increase work efficiency and reduce costs. By providing important information to employees in an understandable and logical manner, they get accustomed to the company more easily and make fewer mistakes in the performance of their duties.
In order for the instruction and training to be effective, the organisation of instruction and training could be described in the enterprise. The procedure may not be necessary in a small enterprise with a few employees, but if there are more employees, it would be good if such an important topic was thought through and also written down. It is a common practice to have one person introduce the organisation of the enterprise’s working environment and occupational safety to all employees, but there may be several people in the enterprise who provide instructions on how to safely perform a specific task. It is a good idea to write down who provides instruction to whom so that it is clear to all those involved. Writing it down is also necessary because when the person who organises instruction and training in the enterprise changes, the next employee has a clear understanding of how this area is organised in the enterprise.
Legislation provides minimum requirements on topics that need to be communicated to new employees, meaning that there may be more topics owing to the specific nature of the enterprise. The information to be communicated to an employee during instruction, is as follows:
- the enterprise’s occupational health and safety requirements and the contact details of the working environment representative and the working environment specialist;
- the results of the risk assessment of the working environment, including the employee’s working environment hazards, health risks and measures taken to prevent damage to health;
- safety requirements for the work to be performed and the working equipment used;
- ergonomically correct working positions and techniques;
- use of personal protective equipment;
- what to do in the event of damage to health, including instructions for first aid, use of first aid equipment and its location, emergency number;
- emergency number 112 and contact details of the first aid provider;
- electrical and fire safety requirements;
- instructions on what to do in the case of risk of an accident and an accident, safety signs used in the workplace, and locations of emergency exits and routes and
- fire-extinguishing appliances;
- instructions for preventing contamination of the environment.
The instruction shall be performed in accordance with the safety instructions.
After instruction, the employee shall receive training. Training shall be provided to acquire safe working practices, taking into account, inter alia, the specific nature and hazards of the employee’s work.
In order for the training to be effective, it is necessary to think carefully about who should provide training to the new employee. It should be an employee whose safety behaviour is impeccable, otherwise the new employee will acquire the wrong working methods and understandings. The employee providing the training shall have time to do this in addition to his or her work.
The employee whose task it is to train the new employee shall be aware of this task. In addition, the employee undergoing training shall know who is responsible for his or her training, i.e. to whom he or she can turn.
The duration of the training is determined by the employer, taking into account the specific nature of and dangers related to the work. For example, the training of an office employee may take an hour or two. During this time, the employee is taught how to adapt his or her place of work (for example, how to adjust an office chair) and other things that are important for the safety of a particular place of work.
Permission to work
An employer shall allow an employee to work if the employer is convinced that the employee is familiar with the company's occupational health and safety organisation, and can apply safe working techniques in practice. There is no obligation to register that an employee is allowed to work. Consider internally whether it is necessary to record the time when the employer (e.g. immediate supervisor, foreman) was convinced that the employee was able to apply safe work practices.
Repetition of instruction
The employee’s instructions shall be repeated if:
- the organisation of occupational health and safety in the enterprise changes;
- the employee’s duties change or the employer gives to the disposal of the employee new work equipment or technology;
- the employee has been absent from work for a long time;
- the employee violated occupational safety requirements and this caused or could have caused an accident, including an occupational accident;
- the employee, the employer or the Labour Inspectorate deems it necessary.
As the complexity of work varies, it is not a good idea to determine the exact frequency of the provision of additional instruction. Rather, it is reasonable to decide on a case-by-case basis; in some instances additional instruction and training (perhaps to a lesser extent) may already be required if there has been a break in work that lasted a couple of months, for example.
In addition, after the employee has been instructed, for example because he or she is going to be using new work equipment, he or she shall also be trained on how to use it safely in practice.
Registration of instruction and training
An employer shall register the date and essence of instruction and training in writing or in a format which can be reproduced in writing. An employee shall confirm such instruction and training in writing or in a format which can be reproduced in writing. A format which can be reproduced in writing means that the registration shall enable permanent written reproduction but does not have to be signed by hand. For example, the training can be registered in a database where the employee states that he or she has taken note of the instruction.
Registration is also required to ensure that all employees have received the necessary instruction and training. However, in order to ensure that instruction and training procedures are in place, it is sometimes necessary to check, for example during internal audits, that everything is still functioning as intended.
Evidence may be needed, for example, in the course of investigating an accident, to determine whether the accident may have been caused by a lack of instruction and training. It may also be necessary to prove the organisation of instruction and training in a court dispute for compensation for damage caused by an occupational accident or an occupational disease. If instruction and training are not properly recorded, the employer does not have a lot of options to prove that he or she has met the requirements. The testimony of witnesses can also be considered evidence, but if the things that need to be proven happened years or decades ago, the witnesses cannot be expected to remember exactly what happened.
It shall be clear from the registration of instruction which instructions the employee has examined. The registration of instruction shall reveal to what extent and when training was organised. If an employee confirms the receipt of instruction and training in the database, it shall be possible to identify who the employee was that gave the confirmation.
Tips for the supervisor
The supervisor shall consider the following when training a new employee:
- a new employee shall not be trained in any way possible but only in a way that is correct in order to avoid possible occupational accidents or illnesses related to work;
- personal example is important for a new employee to learn to follow occupational safety, use the necessary personal protective equipment, etc.;
- safety culture is a daily part of work;
- the supervisor shall give the trainee feedback on his or her work;
- the employee shall be informed of the possible dangers that he or she needs to take into account at work, how to react to them, which dangers he or she can eliminate independently and in which cases it is essential to call for help;
- the employee shall be notified of potentially dangerous situations and the rules for documenting them.
At the end of the training, the employee could be told which colleague to turn to if he or she has further questions. This can be the supervisor or anyone else.