Improving the management of health and safety in the manufacturing industry

October 9, 2023

April 19, 2022

Marketing Director

In this blog, we discuss how adopting a proactive and collaborative approach to training management, together with the right tools for training administration, can help to support your achievement of continuous improvement in the area of Health & Safety (H&S) in manufacturing.

Understandably, the focus of health and safety in manufacturing is primarily dominated by risk identification around process, physical and environmental factors. As such, it is often heavily oriented towards the identification of physical hazards, optimisation of physical processes, appropriate shop floor signage, sensor data and physical checks.

The other side of this equation, of course, is ensuring that staff are appropriately able to identify these risks and know how to respond to them. This makes training an important part of your arsenal in ensuring good health and safety practice – and outcomes – throughout your manufacturing operations.

Training supports better health and safety in manufacturing

The role of training management in good H&S practice in manufacturing isn’t only about enabling staff to recognise and respond to risks on shopfloor processes or the environment. 

It’s also about competency compliance. An essential element of reducing H&S risk in manufacturing lies in ensuring that all staff are competent to undertake the work they do. In any manufacturing environment, it’s likely that many processes and areas of the plant require staff to hold and be able to evidence valid competencies before they can work in them. 

Demonstrating compliance with legally mandated training, as well as industry or company competency standards, is another reason why training / competency management is so important to drive and sustain better H&S practices within manufacturing.

Identifying training needs across your manufacturing operations

To ensure compliance, whomever is responsible for managing training in your organisation –  whether training administrators, HR, learning and development (L&D) teams or office management – must manage each employee’s certifications so that the evidence can be easily retrieved and prove that all required certifications are valid by being kept up to date. 

For example, your process may involve working on fine cutting or sanding of wood in a way that can potentially release fine dusts with a particle size of less than 80 microns. This will require an ATEX compliant environment, safety signage and process controls to control this risk. In addition, anyone working in that environment will require ATEX awareness training, so they understand the risks and controls that must be followed. 

It’s clear that your training management needs a thorough understanding of the risks associated with each task and role so that they can ensure competencies are appropriate and up to date across your workforce. The starting point for this is a training needs analysis. 

What is Training Needs Analysis?

Training needs analysis (TNA) is the best way to detail compliance in H&S training easily. Essentially, you build an overview of each set of mandatory competency requirements linked to each specific job role within your organisation.

First, you plot all the tasks and roles within your business. Then, against each role and task, you map out the different skills, qualifications / certifications and experience needed to carry them out. The end result you have is a training matrix for your business.

Each member of the workforce will be linked to the tasks and roles they undertake. Therefore, their required competence can be easily identified and managed.  

In this way, your training matrix will provide you with an overview of all the competence required to run your manufacturing operations efficiency and safely.

Once you have mapped out your training needs analysis you are in a good place to begin planning the next training activities.

What’s good practice in your training matrix?

A comprehensive map of your business training needs is no small task. The traditional way of managing records and compliance across multiple Excel spreadsheets is difficult, time-consuming and prone to human error. It simply isn’t working for businesses.

Instead, a dedicated training management software can help save time, money and effort. From a compliance perspective, you can see clearly whether staff have the correct competence and the status of their training before coordinating any activities / tasks.

To assist, automated renewal alerts are the minimum you should expect from your training management software. Speak to your solution provider to look for opportunities to automate training processes to save more time and effort.

Furthermore, a centralised record keeping system makes it easier to produce status reports to demonstrate compliance to clients, external audits or enforcement agencies. This can help businesses who are required to maintain safety schemes in procurement (SSIP), ISO standards and respond to regular pre-qualification questionnaires in the tender process. 

You will also avoid a situation where a worker is assigned to a task which they do not have the appropriate competence, therefore saving face with your clients and not wasting time in your operations. 

Proper planning prevents H&S risk in manufacturing

Your training matrix allows your training programme to be implemented in a proactive and timely way. By integrating your training matrix with a record management system, you can then begin to understand your business risk profile further.

With renewal dates stored alongside every record, you have the basis on which to coordinate training and help forecast downtime and costs associated with training

But what should such a training programme look like?

Provide easy access to training

Your training management solution / software should provide easy access to training. This means offering intuitive mechanisms through which staff can make training requests. 

Today, this means offering an integrated platform for eLearning where staff can self-enrol the eLearning they need in a cost-effective and convenient way. All records of completed eLearning courses need to automate back into your training records, so that they are properly maintained and kept up to date. You don’t want to invest in eLearning where certification evidence falls through the gaps.

Good training management helps embed a positive culture

Your choice of training management software plays an important role in helping you to embed a positive learning culture. By giving staff easy access to view their own training records, you promote accountability. 

Empower your staff to take ownership by:

  • Increasing visibility of the different competencies required for their role
  • Increasing visibility of their current qualifications and training
  • Provide simple, familiar colour coding to see when certifications are due to expire, so they are empowered to take a proactive, self-enrolment approach
  • Keeping training requests quick and easy to register
  • Integrating eLearning platforms which automatically updates training records

Giving staff tools to make simple training requests pays off. As well as helping to build the culture of personal accountability around their learning and development, it will save the business time and effort trying to coordinate this on their behalf.

Of course, your training must also be easy to search and report on so that you can demonstrate compliance to the appropriate lines of management, to auditors and in the event of an accident.

Your training matrix should be a “living document” that reflects significant change

Although mapping a comprehensive training matrix for your business can be complex and time-consuming, your training matrix must be a ‘living’ document that is continually updated to reflect changes across the business.  

It will need to reflect a wide range of significant change such as: 

  • Changes to your manufacturing processes and procedures
  • Changes to your workplace
  • Changes to personnel and job roles (including promotions)
  • Changes to legislation, industry standards and trade association guidance
  • Changes in technology / equipment used
  • Changes to market or client expectations

Any software or system you use must make it easy for both your training needs analysis and training matrix to continually evolve in line with business needs.

How can HandsHQ help you to achieve good H&S practice in manufacturing? 

HandsHQ Training Register is an easy-to-use, cloud-based software solution for storing all your training information in one place. You can ditch those unwieldy spreadsheets – and never miss another expiry date!

Training Register supports your efforts to ensure good health and safety practice across your manufacturing business by:

  • Keep all your training records, evidence, and training needs analysis in one place
  • Build, review and search by task, job role, individual or course
  • Quickly assess compliance through colour-coded records and flexible reporting
  • Report on subcontractor training performance if you have a large supply chain
  • Generate automatic alerts about renewal dates for training
  • Collate training information in a single document to show competence and evidence.
  • Control who has access to view or edit information to ensure data integrity
  • Enjoy the eLearning integration with more than 140 iHASCO elearning courses – with all completed courses automatically updated to an individual’s training record (up to 36 languages available)
  • Options for further streamline training administration via an API - communicate with your existing software systems
  • Integrate RAMS with Training Register to pull through training and competency records to your projects.

Take a look at HandsHQ's Training Register in an upcoming webinar or get a 14-day free trial

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