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Mentor Training
How often do I need to provide refresher training?
With no specified refresher period set out by law for many items of mobile plant and lifting equipment, including but not limited to Fork Lift Trucks. Choosing the right interval for your business requires a sound understanding of your operational risks and how they influence your training schedules.
Even well-trained and experienced operators need routine monitoring, and, where necessary, retesting or refresher training to combat complacency and ensure they continue to operate equipment safely.
What the definitive guide says:
To find out more, we refer to the only equipment specific Approved Code of Practice L117, the HSE’s ‘definitive guide’ to forklift operator training and safe use. It states:
“There is no specific time period after which you need to provide refresher training or formal assessment. However, you may decide that automatic refresher training or a retest after a set period (for example 3-5 years) is the best way to make sure your employees remain competent. Where you adopt this approach, you will still need to monitor performance in case operators need extra training before the set period ends.”
As this is guidance and not law, some misinterpret refresher training (intentionally or unintentionally) as unnecessary. But, it absolutely is and neglecting this fact could come at a heavy cost to your operation’s safety, compliance and productivity and whilst the L117 is specifically targeted at the use of fork lift trucks, this guidance should be replicated for other items of operational site equipment. Many of the accrediting bodies will detail an expiry date on their cards and certification, but what about those items of equipment that aren’t governed by a set standard?
Why is refresher training important?
Regular refresher training nips bad habits (and the costly accidents that follow) in the bud and ensures operators:
• Maintain good operational habits
• Learn new skills
• Reassess their knowledge, understanding and attitude
• Ensure operators are aware of the latest best practice guidance
Don’t just assume it is sufficient to simply implement a regular training interval to cover all eventualities. There are instances where refresher training or retesting might be required sooner, if operators:
• Have not used equipment for some time due to secondment or absence from work
• Only operate the equipment occasionally
• Appear to have developed unsafe working practices
• Have had an accident, or a near miss*
• Have a change to their working practices, environment or equipment
*Remember, in the instance that there has been an accident or a near miss, blanket refresher training is not the right approach. Understanding of accident or near miss causation is vital, this must be identified, and a prescriptive training plan put in place.
Determining your risk
To be truly effective, your refresher training policy should be based on a detailed assessment of your specific operation – including your processes and equipment, how and where it’s used, by whom and the associated risks. You may have accredited certification that states an expiry date of 5 years but due to several considered factors you may find that refresher training for your business should be conducted sooner.
Refresher training is a key part of your overall training programme and your commitment to workforce competence.
For further information and support get in touch with the training advisors at Mentor. Jan 2019 - Issue 54
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