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Is a Health and Safety Action a Rule Violation or Down to a Lack of Knowledge?


A lot of accidents affecting the health and safety of workers are caused either by a deliberate by-passing of rules or through a lack of knowledge regarding the risks and dangers to health that may be present in their line of work.

Where lack of knowledge is to blame, this can be remedied through health and safety training which provides workers with the information they are lacking regarding potential risks and the consequences of their actions or inactions. This training can either be dedicated to a defined topic such as manual handling training, sharps training or COSHH hazardous substance training, or it can be a health and safety course which covers a wide variety of issues and the most common examples of dangers in a typical place of work like the NEBOSH General Certificate or the IOSH Managing Safely course. There are also those which focus on specific industries such as the NEBOSH Construction Certificate, SMSTS and SSSTS certificates which are dedicated to construction site safety.

If a health and safety violation in rule-based, this can often be much more difficult to correct. There may be a culture within the company of not complying either in whole or in part with applicable health and safety legislation, in which case it is the responsibility of management to correct this. If these instructions actually come from managers, for example to try and reduce costs by not providing the necessary protective equipment, then workers can report them to the relevant authorities. After all, it is them risking their health and their safety by doing the work, not the managers.

Changing Health and Safety Attitudes

As much as training workers how to do things safely is important, a similarly vital part of the education process is explaining to people - both workers and managers- as to why health and safety is so important and why it is imperative that things are done in a certain way and control measures are put into place and enforced in order to prevent accidents and incidents from occurring.

Changing attitudes can be a large part of the battle with regards to the creation of a positive health and safety culture within the organisation. When the problems come from management in terms of encouraging the foregoing of rules and regulations and circumventing any safety protocols that are in place, either an accident, near-miss or, most preferably, an inspection, may be able to convince them to amend this policy.

Selected Courses

Please see below for a selection of health and safety courses and qualifications which you may be interested in:

NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is the flagship NEBOSH qualification, and is the first UK vocational qualification to be developed specifically for health and safety professionals.

The NEBOSH National Diploma provides the core health and safety knowledge (transferable across industry, commerce and the public sector) which, combined with understanding and appropriate application, underpins the competent performance of an occupational health and safety practitioner.

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NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH General Certificate is one of the most popular and widely-held health and safety qualifications in the UK. It is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who require an understanding of general health and safety issues.

The NEBOSH General Certificate covers the main legal requirements for health and safety in the UK, along with the identification and control of workplace hazards, and the practical application of this knowledge. The general content of the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus means it is suitable and relevant for those working in virtually any industry, and is often used as a solid foundation for those going on to further study and specialising in a particular area such as construction site health and safety or fire safety.

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IOSH Managing Safely Course

The IOSH Managing Safely course is designed for managers and supervisors of organisations in virtually all industry sectors, in order to give them all they need to know to effectively manage health and safety in the workplace.

Recently updated, the new high impact programme covers key health and safety issues, and includes references to international case studies.

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CITB Site Management SMSTS Course

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) is one of the most popular health and safety training courses, and is intended for construction site managers, project managers and senior supervisors, as well as proprietors of smaller companies.

Client-based personnel would also benefit from attending the SMSTS course.

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CITB Health and Safety Awareness Course

This course is for those who have entered, or are about to enter, the construction and civil engineering industry as a member of the workforce to help them understand the potential hazards that they face at work on site. It aims to provide a practical summary of health and safety, welfare and environmental health and safety issues.

The course also allows delegates to identify their individual responsibilities for looking after themselves and others, what the employer's duties are and what should be done if they think anyone's health and safety is being put at risk.

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