Amicus the Union

Amicus the Union

March 23, 2007 12:32 ET

Amicus supports Proskills health and safety training initiative

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(CCNMatthews - March 23, 2007) - When looking to ensure their people are appropriately training in health and safety, many employers, particularly Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, are confused by the mass of health and safety occupational standards and training courses. They struggle to clearly understand the differences between the different programmes and this has discouraged their uptake and leads some employers to question their real value. The overall impact is that some employees are not receiving essential training in basic health and safety in the work place. Furthermore, the inability to make valid comparisons reduces the mobility of labour as employers cannot easily judge whether potential employees have appropriate knowledge in this key area.

Health and safety training and development, across all UK industries, is therefore to undergo a major review in a new initiative designed to streamline the number of courses and qualifications available.
The initiative has been based on an initial consultation involving 38 organisations with a particular interest in health and safety. Research has also confirmed that a major issue for employers is the low level of health and safety awareness of school leavers entering the work environment. Too many teenagers are vulnerable to accidents when they first enter employment because of this failure, and that is an area that will be addressed.

Proskills, the Sector Skills Council (SSC) for the process manufacturing sector, is taking a lead role in this major review of health and safety training and qualifications on behalf of the Skills for Business Network. The aim is to significantly simplify employers' ability to compare and evaluate the myriad of health and safety standards and training courses available and, where possible, streamline provision.

The project will potentially result in the development of core entry-level qualifications and training courses that would be applicable across multiple industry sectors; courses that ultimately become integrated into the curricula for schools and other educational establishments, ensuring school-leavers and other new entrants to the work environment have attained a basic awareness of health and safety issues; promote sharing of best practice across apparently disparate sectors.
Proskills will establish a working group to provide a collective voice across the different industry sectors represented by the 25 Sector Skills Councils and will be supported by other key stakeholders from professional trade bodies, trade unions, safety organisations and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The project may also stimulate further initiatives by employers within different industry sectors to review more sector specific qualifications and courses in partnership with their SSC and other stakeholders.

Terry Watts, CEO of Proskills, says: "Health and safety is given the highest priority by employers within the sectors which Proskills represents and so I felt that it was important for us to take a very active role in this initiative, which will ultimately help to raise safety standards across UK Plc. Employees will develop vital skills and achieve recognised qualifications, which will help place them in a new job, whilst employers will find the process of assessing and selecting training courses far more transparent."

Bernard Rutter of Amicus, the largest UK trade union representing employees in manufacturing industries and who represents trade unions on the Pro-Skills board said: "Amicus is supporting, and contributing to, a multi industry initiative to improve health and safety training for workers. We are strongly committed to effective health and safety training, and so we have a major interest in assisting and promoting this work. It will make it easier for employers to meet their responsibilities to train their workforce about hazards in the work environment and good health and safety practice. Well trained employees will be able to meet their responsibility to keep both themselves and their colleagues safe."

Amicus Health & Safety Advisor Bud Hudspith points out: "Employers have a clear duty to create a safe place of work, and training their employees in all aspects of health and safety is an important part of that. The outcome of this initiative should be a clearer picture for employers of what they need to do, and better training for workers."

James Barrett, Head of the Manufacturing Sector of the HSE, says: "I believe that Proskills is well-placed to represent the interests of the Sector Skills Council in this major new health and safety initiative. Health and safety is a key issue for the industries that Proskills represents and they have adopted a number of innovative approaches. For example, the quarrying and quarry products sector has recently achieved a 50 per cent reduction in incidents over a five-year period and made a commitment to improving the competence of the whole workforce."

Work is underway and the first meetings will be held in the next few weeks with major activity starting after April.

Notes to editors

1.Proskills is one of a network of 25 employer-led Sector Skills Councils tasked by the governments of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland with ensuring employers have people with the right skills to boost productivity and competitiveness. Proskills is the Sector Skills Council for the Process Manufacturing sector, a major part of the UK economy, including the Coatings, Extractives, Glass, Building Products and Printing industries.

2.Amicus is the UK's largest private sector union representing members in manufacturing, print, paper and publishing, construction, finance, health, chemicals, IT etc

3.HSE statistics reported that in 2005/2006, there were 20 fatalities and 3,960 major injuries within the 16-24 age groups of employees

Contact Information

  • Bernard Rutter
    07979 630962
    Amicus press office
    Ashraf Choudhury
    020 7420 8914 or 07980 224761.