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Employee Health And Safety Training

  • Document Type: Guidance Note
    Keycode: web only
    Category: Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, 
    Division Author: Manufacturing & Agriculture
    Publication Date: 06 June 2005
    Date First Published: 04 October 2000
    Summary: This guidance note provides information on training of employees to comply with the OHS Act.

Issued: October 2000

To provide guidance to employers on training employees in health and safety.

Why is training important?
Employees are the greatest assets you have to assist you in achieving your business objectives as well as meeting your moral and legal obligations in providing and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace.

To get the best from your employees it is essential that they be provided with appropriate training on all aspects of their work including health and safety.

Training is an excellent way for employees to learn new skills and knowledge and to reinforce good work practices. This can result in a change in workplace behaviour (eg a new way of doing something).

Investing in effective employee training will increase skills, knowledge, productivity and morale as well as reduce workplace incidents.

What does the law require?
The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (the Act) requires employers to provide such training to employees as is necessary to enable the employees to perform their work in a manner that is safe and without risks to health.

Various regulations made under the Act (eg Hazardous Substances Regulations, Plant Regulations) require employers to provide training to employees on:

  • the nature of hazards;
  • the processes used for hazard identification, risk assessment and risk control;
  • the need for, and proper use, of measures to control risk;
  • safety procedures; and
  • the use, fit, testing and storage of personal protective equipment.

Training Needs Analysis
The first step of any training program is identifying your employees' training needs. This is referred to as a "Training Needs Analysis". This is achieved by the identification of the difference between the skills and knowledge of an individual or group and the skills and knowledge they require to carry out a particular task.

To assist in this process the analysis should look at three different levels:

  • the organisation -
    • What are the organisation's overall health and safety vision and goals?
    • Will any duties or responsibilities change in order to meet these goals? If yes, what changes?
    • Does the workplace's attitude to health and safety need to change?
    • What are the workplace hazards, control measures and other arrangements that all employees need to be familiar with?
  • the job -
    • What are the actual duties and responsibilities that comprise the job?
    • Is there any change planned to the duties and responsibilities as a result of organisational change or implementing new measures to control health and safety risks in the workplace? If so what are they?
    • What skills and knowledge are required to competently discharge the duties and responsibilities safely and without risk to health?
  • the employees -
    • What skills and knowledge do your employees currently have?
    • What training have individual employees already undertaken?
    • Who should receive additional training in specific topics? (Note: a person who holds a certificate of competency to undertake certain type of work (eg a certified forklift operator) still requires training and refresher training on specific workplace hazards and specific model of equipment)
    • Who can act as trainers for specific topics?
    • What is the best way to deliver training in order to meet the need of individual employees?
    • Classroom training versus on-the-job training;
    • Use of external training providers or internal people;
    • Use of training facilities away from the workplace or in house;
    • Training to be conducted during working hours or after hours;
    • The needs of employees from non-English speaking background.
    • Are there any people in your workforce who may have special needs (eg young workers)?

The Training Needs Analysis should be carried out in consultation with your employees.

A Training Needs Analysis should not be regarded as a once off activity. It needs to be repeated when:

  • there is a change in the nature of hazards and associated risks in the workplace;
  • there are changes in the work practices or measures to control risk in the workplace;
  • there is a change in roles and responsibilities or organisational arrangements; and
  • new or additional information is made available from manufacturers, suppliers, government bodies or other relevant bodies that may have an impact on the health and safety of employees.

Training plan
Once your employees' training needs have been identified, a plan for the delivery of training should be developed in consultation with your employees.

The training plan should contain the following information:

  • Training required
  • Training objectives
  • Who is to be trained?
  • How is the training to be delivered?
  • Who is going to deliver the training?
  • Date of training

Once the training plan has been endorsed, a senior person in the organisation should be given the responsibility for ensuring its implementation. Your employees should be provided with regular progress reports on the implementation of the training plan.

If there is need to change certain aspects of the training plan during the implementation phase due to unforeseen circumstances, you need to make sure the relevant employees are consulted in relation to those changes.

Preparation of training materials
In order for employees to get the most out of a training program, training should not be restricted just delivering a talk on a specific topic. It should also involve practical exercises to reinforce the messages given in the talk.

You need to ensure the relevant people are given sufficient time to prepare any required training materials. Those developing training materials should have the necessary skills in the development of training packages in such a way as to maximise learning of the trainees. If they do not have expertise on the training topic, they need to have access to people with such expertise.

The training materials should consist of:

  • A training manual for the presenter(s) containing presenter notes and any overheads and videos to be used during the training;
  • A training manual for the trainees which contains:
  • reading materials;
  • a copy of any overheads which the presenter(s) used;
  • materials relating to any practical exercises or assignments which the trainees are required to undertake;
  • any handout materials; and
  • space for the trainees to make their personal notes.
  • A form for the trainees to provide feedback on the quality and content of training they have received.

Developers of training materials should research what is available elsewhere to meet the workplace need. This may not only save time for the development of training materials but also may provide the developer with ideas on how the materials should be presented. Developers of training materials should look at the relevant information (including publications, videos and training packages) that are available from employer associations, unions, training providers, WorkCover and its interstate and overseas counterparts.

Developers of training materials may not have the necessary presentation skills to be good presenters. In these instances you can either develop their presentation skills or use someone with good presentation skills to deliver the training materials.

Delivery of training
Training may be delivered in a classroom setting, on-the-job or in the form of self-paced computer based programs or a combination of these. Where training is delivered in a classroom setting, you should ensure that:

  • the trainer has good presentation skills;
  • the class size is such that attention can be given to individual trainees;
  • the training venue is suitable (eg not too noisy, no disruption etc);
  • the training venue has appropriate training equipment for the trainer to use; and
  • training participants are provided with suitable seating and rest breaks.

All training should include evaluation of the participants' comprehension and retention. This may be achieved by asking participants some key questions relating to the training to test their understanding after the training and/or observe how they perform a particular job which is covered by the training.

Training records
Maintenance of appropriate records will assist you to:

  • know what has been done and what more needs to be done; and
  • demonstrate compliance with your obligations under the Act and associated Regulations.

The following records should be kept:

  • Training Needs Analysis documents
  • Training plans
  • Training materials
  • A list of people who have successfully completed various training programs and the dates

Supervision of trainees
You need to ensure that trainees who are undergoing on-the-job training or who are practising new skills are not exposed to health and safety risk and that:

  • they receive appropriate directions, demonstrations and monitoring;
  • should an emergency involving a trainee arise, action to immediately rectify any dangerous situation can be taken;
  • they are always under direct supervision of someone who is competent; and
  • their work requirements are paced appropriately to enable them to concentrate on perfecting their skills and techniques before trying to keep up with machine paced systems or meet production quotas.

Acts and Regulations

Acts and regulations are available from Information Victoria on 1300 366 356 or order online at

View the legislation at Victorian Law Today at

Standards Australia

Copies of standards can be obtained by contacting Standards Australia on 1300 654 646 or by visiting the web site at

Further information

Contact your local WorkSafe office.

Note: This guidance material has been prepared using the best information available to WorkSafe Victoria. Any information about legislative obligations or responsibilities included in this material is only applicable to the circumstances described in the material. You should always check the legislation referred to in this material and make your own judgement about what action you may need to take to ensure you have complied with the law. Accordingly, the Victorian WorkCover Authority extends no warranties as to the suitability of the information for your specific circumstances.