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Friday, 18 May 2012

Friday Guest Blog: Life after Lofstedt

By Peter Davies - Director of Training, P.D Associates (NW) Ltd

Following the recently published and much awaited Lofstedt report on a wide range of HSE Reform, there are concerns in the safety provision industry regarding the impact in particular on First Aid Training. The outcome has been that all First Aid Training is to be deregulated from a date yet to be confirmed, but it would appear that it will all happen between October this year and April next, the pressure to implement is on sooner rather than later.

What this in fact means is that the HSE will no longer be regulating the standards and qualification of First Aid courses together with no longer requiring providers to affiliate to them or other Awarding Bodies of Compliance.

What this now means is, to put not too finer point on it, will allow any Tom, Dick or Harry to deliver first aid without being properly regulated. Potential providers setting up to jump on the bandwagon will potentially be in it for the ‘quick buck’ and without any experience in the industry or practical background. It does not need much imagination as to what could happen when potentially poor quality training could put staff at risk.

As things stand, Awarding Bodies of Compliance (AWB) have to be registered with the HSE with smaller Training Providers working under ABC company banner. This ensures that standards of training are maintained through regular spot verification of course content and delivery by independent assessors. With the new regulations companies who were once with HSE will now, only if they wish to, should be approved by Ofqual to show commitment to high and approved standards of compliance. As it seems to be quite expensive to gain this recognition, for the most part only well established and respected providers would probably wish to fall in line. The Awarding Bodies of Compliance will then be able to dictate standards of materials and Training levels of smaller providers who would wish to come under their umbrella to establish a quality assurance level to their clients.

Unfortunately it also engenders the big brother pressures from large national organisations who will not have to be registered in the same way and feel they have the right to dominate, I can see them going out and advertising themselves as the brand leaders therefore everyone should fall in with them. Don’t fall into that trap as it’s just not true.

In times of austerity it is always easy to opt for the cheap option, but are you getting value for money and quality of service? That’s the question those requiring a training provider should be asking. As a relatively small provider to industry, P. D. Associates (NW) Ltd are aware that clients are entitled to be made aware of the quality of training available from the company and the questions should be asked when enquiring to a provider, What qualifications do your Trainers hold? Are they insured? How long have they been training? And if necessary ask for references. All our Tutors are widely qualified with years of experience some within the emergency services/ forces with a minimum teaching qualification of PTLLS3, hold an up to date enhanced CRB certificate. They all have to have their own indemnity insurance and are subject to annual verification, and attend regular CPD update awareness days.

Working under the umbrella of Awarding Bodies of Compliance, us and others like us can take advantage of quality produced advertising materials and training media (books etc) including well presented and professionally produced Power Point Presentations and DVD’s. By working with providers such as this you are assured of the correct standards being maintained and monitored by the AWB with whom they are affiliated.

The AWB’s themselves will be scrutinised on an on-going basis by Ofqual to ensure standards are maintained, this scrutiny is passed down the line to affiliated providers who must comply or lose their status and with it credibility.

Companies who charge competitive rates for their services will have the backing of their awarding bodies/ Ofqual Organisations and will draw on many years expertise both in the field and within the medium of training, this is what the client is paying for and being in the knowledge that the training being given is appropriate and thorough being at the same time being delivered by fully qualified and experienced providers and trainers.

Industry beware, cheap is not always best practice, shop around before you decide and ask appropriate questions of the provider before dealing out contracts. Although the First Aid may be deregulated, business will be under obligation to buy in training at an appropriate standard to comply with the Health and Safety at work etc. Act 1974, therefore in line with due diligence Ofqual Training Centres will be the only safe option and not unregulated providers. Insurance companies may also dictate the use of appropriate regulated standard of service provision for safety training.

Moving on to yet another emotive subject which is that of Asbestos Awareness. It is still fact that many small businesses in the building and maintenance industries are not taking this seriously. Asbestos was used extensively in buildings until totally banned in 1999. The problem now is the fact that those entering on work in premises built before that time will potentially place workers at risk. One only has to look at the bulletins on the HSE website to realise the enormity of the problem. awareness training courses should form an essential part of any companies safety strategy. Over 4000 workers will die this year as a result of being exposed to asbestos, some will have worked in the Asbestos Manufacturing Industry or in building works many years ago. It has been established that Mesothelioma, a fatal condition of exposure to Asbestos, can be laying dormant within the lungs for between 15 and 60 years and when or if it does appear only short life expectance is the best one can hope for. If you don’t believe me, go to the HSE Website/Asbestos and click onto the clip featuring Tom King( Clip entitled-Hidden Killer) who was the owner of a family building business, then say you don’t want to know.

In travelling around delivering courses, I find that on many occasions when Asbestos is mentioned, I find that there is a total ignorance of the problem and in many instances the company for whom these tradesmen/women work are not being made aware of the dangers. To show due diligence and duty of care, businesses should take on board appropriate training for their staff and not push it to one side, it might be part of your cost cutting strategy to turn a blind eye to what you may consider not necessary training, but try and take the long term view of the consequences if you don’t act.

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