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Is your workplace training adequate?

If your vehicle recycling business is welcoming a new employee or is set to take delivery of new depollution and dismantling equipment, it’s vital you ensure that the correct level of training is given. Equipment handover training doesn't always cut it. With end-of-life vehicle depollution and dismantling activities involving numerous hazards as well as high injury rates, your workplace training needs to be water-tight. Not only is there the risk of injury, workers compensation or other insurance claims, plus recovery time, companies that fail to implement proper training resulting in serious injuries can be heavily penalised. This may also lead to potential investigations and subsequent prosecutions by enforcement bodies such as the HSE and the environmental agency. No-one knows your business activities better than you, and entrusting the future skills and capability of your staff to a third party needs careful consideration. You need to ensure that the workplace training provided, regardless of who's delivering it, is both adequate and fit for purpose.

Equipment Familiarisation or Handover Training Is Not A Replacement For Workplace Training.

When a business invests in a new piece of depollution equipment, your supplier will typically offer you some basic familiarisation training. Although this training may be useful for operators to get up to speed with new equipment, the training is unlikely to cover many of the critical aspects that make up workplace training. Just because your supplier provided your employees with some shiny training certificates, that doesn't automatically mean you have fulfilled your legal responsibility of what represents adequate training. Remember, familiarisation is a short activity to make sure that the individual understands how to operate the machine in question, whereas Workplace Training (a mandatory requirement for all operators) explicitly requires each operator to be trained on all makes and models of work equipment they can be expected to use. So when your equipment supplier assures you that they have your training requirements covered, be sure you know what the training entails and what your people will be receiving.

Simple training quality checks include:

  1. Is the training accredited by a trusted third party business?

  2. Does the training provided meet an industry standard?

  3. Is the training manufacturer-specific?

  4. Is the training applicable to all similar equipment and therefore be ported onto other makes and models?

  5. Does the training include, as a minimum, the following:

    1. pre-start-up checks;

    2. any basic maintenance tasks;

    3. operator features such as operator and safety controls;

    4. emergency procedures (including the immediate shut down features);

    5. how to check for potential problems.

  6. Does the training have an expiry date?

What is Adequate?

The Health and Safety Executive require that all companies must provide adequate training in machine operations to ensure the health and safety in its use, and in order to minimise the risks of workplace accidents. The key word here is adequate. By definition "adequate" means just enough or satisfactory for a particular purpose. A better term to describe the level of training would have been "robust". Allowing businesses (with a close eye on cost) to interpret what is meant by adequate has led historically to some very loose definitions. So don't get caught out falling short of what is required. Let me be clear here, if you get adequate training wrong in vehicle depollution and dismantling, where workplace hazards are abundant, then you leave your business open to unnecessary accident and injury rates, as well as potential compliance shortfalls that could attract enforcement action. So do it right first-time.

What Should Workplace Training Look Like?

Induction training needs to be very thorough, but if you then top-up initial training with frequent revisits to refresh operator knowledge, this is the most impactful and cost effective way to maintain your mandatory adequate obligation. It should consist of training in pre-start-up checks, simple maintenance tasks, and emergency procedures (including the immediate shut down features). Thorough training should always cover the comprehensive pre-start check and include not only features that help the machinery to do its job, but operator features such as operator and safety controls. Training should also provide advice on how to check for potential problems.

Who Should Deliver Your Workplace Training?

Adequate training can be delivered in-house using the manufacturer's instructions and the background knowledge / skills of more experienced workers, but it must be adequate. Simply training a new employee using a person who was previously exposed to some equipment familiarisation a few years back and yet hasn't been actively depolluting vehicles for quite some time, would not be deemed as adequate. Nor would the HSE deem it acceptable for an organisation to keep cascading training from one employee to another in a bid to keep training costs low, in effect diluting the training as it is delivered. Finally the HSE would never accept that operator training need only be done once and never refreshed or revisited. Too many organisations only revise training after a workplace incident.

Why Do We Get Workplace Training Wrong?

So with the consequences of not getting it right being so high, why in 2024 are we still seeing some recycling businesses getting it so wrong and falling short of what is required? The answer is simple - not enough importance is being placed on the delivery of quality workplace training. And the reasons that not enough importance is placed on training is down to a number of factors. These include cost, time off the job, and staff turnover. It requires people to take time off the day job to complete quality training and because it's thorough it won't be quick. It may also require regular refreshing - say every three years or so. This can be compounded by the costs of staff turnover. A business with high turnover already sees a lot of people investment and PPE costs, so the idea of spending even more money on training is not very appealing.

Depolluting and dismantling vehicles is a hazardous job. And yet very few organisations consider the merits of workplace training for staff that is accredited and externally verified for quality assurance. Quality Assurance takes the worry out of having to check the training is up to scratch, and applies a set of processes, work standards, and procedures that ensures staff receive consistent workplace training and guarantees everyone has access to the the same level of training. Training is calibrated to a defined standard as opposed to a equipment manufacturer who may choose to focus on the benefits / features of your brand new investment not the maintenance or things it doesn't do for you.

ELV Training believes workplace training should fulfil a much wider requirement for employees in the workplace; not only keeping people safe and environmentally compliant, but also instilling defined work standards that will drive efficiency within business activities. If you would like to take the guesswork out of training and discuss how we can help, please get in touch. We offer a series of ELV depollution and recycling training programmes aligned with the National Occupational Standards. We have also recently launched a world first CIWM Level 3 Vocational Qualification for vehicle depollution and dismantlers.



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