Our guide to health and safety
Jade O'Donoghue

Our guide to health and safety

First published date April 15 2015 Amended date May 20 2015

Health and safety is generally seen as a bit of a boring topic to discuss. The term ‘health and safety gone mad’ seems to be all too familiar in today’s society where rules and regulations regarding our well being seem to do the opposite of keeping us well and actually get in the way of good old fashioned fun. A balance does need to be struck though, and while we hate the idea of banning conkers from the playground, there are some health and safety rules that really do save lives and having a good knowledge of them is undoubtedly useful. Whether you need to learn for work, for a hobby outside of work, or just to make your home life a little safer, there’s a course out there for you.


Doing it for work

The vast majority of people who take health and safety courses do so for work – it’s not really a subject you do for pleasure. However there’s no doubt that you will learn a lot of skills and tips that you can use in your personal as well as professional life.

Health and safety courses for work might be general and look at things that can affect every workplace – from heavy lifting to first aid – or they may be specific to a certain working environment, such as a factory or an office. It’s worth reading the course description very carefully if your employer has asked you to find a health and safety course to do – you might feel a bit silly learning about how to be clean and safe in a kitchen if you work in a library.

Regardless of what course you take in the subject for work, it will definitely look good on your CV. This sort of knowledge is often very easily transferred and you’ll be able to carry it with your through several jobs.


Doing it for fun (err...)

It sounds a bit weird to learn health and safety for fun, we agree, it’s hardly Zumba or pottery. But there are actually a lot of courses out there that will help you progress outside of work. For example, if you’re interested in water sports, you might like to learn about safety around open water to help the people you do your hobby with or the club you belong to. Though it’s common for health and safety courses to be booked and paid for by HR professionals, it’s quite easy to book onto one as an individual and pay for yourself.


Acronyms and what they mean                                    

There are a lot of acronyms in this subject area and it can sometimes be hard to understand course titles with them in. Here are a few of the ones you are most likely to see while you browse...

SSSTS – Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme – this is a course for people who supervise building sites in how to do so safely and adhering to the appropriate rules and regulations.

COSHH – Control of Substances Hazardous to Health – this means ensuring that certain substances and chemicals that can be dangerous if touched or inhaled are handled safely. Courses in COSHH will train you to carry out assessments of how such chemicals are stored.

CIEH – Chartered Institute of Environmental Health – this is an awarding organisation that accredits certain health and safety courses.

IOSH – Institution of Occupational Safety and Health – this is an organisation that focuses on supporting people who need to know about health and safety as part of their professional responsibilities.

NEBOSH – National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health – this is an awarding organisation that provides qualifications and exams for those who require health and safety knowledge for work.


Did you know?

Win points with your health and safety tutor with these facts

  1. Contrary to popular belief, you can bend your back while lifting heavy loads – a slight bend is advised as you go to pick the item up.
  2. Smartphones, tablets and keyboards can actually harbour more germs than a toilet seat. It makes sense really – how often do you put bleach around your iPhone?
  3. Food poisoning is not instant – it usually takes one to three days after eating something contaminated for symptoms to occur.
  4. It’s actually more dangerous to have a plug covering piece of plastic if you have small children about than nothing at all. This is because, with something in the socket, the plug is live, whereas without one, it’s not and so much safer.
  5. When walking up or down a ladder it’s important to hold onto the rungs rather than sides because if one breaks you will be left hanging as opposed to sliding right down.

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