Conflict of interest – vacation date or mandatory training date?

Not long ago, I raised the subject of the upcoming wave of vacation leaves. The procedure has been activated for adequate notice time for reporting longer absences, supervisor acceptance, and we’re ready for a well-deserved rest . Time is of the essence in this process. The length of employee absence, but also time control, i.e. periodic health and safety training validity revision. What if the dates fall perfectly in the middle of the employee’s vacation leave? Let them go and deal with the subject when they return, or is it better to deal with the matter before they leave?

According to legal provisions, each employee must undergo mandatory training BEFORE being allowed to work, which implies that while they are on vacation, they are not professionally active and so we can send them for training on the first day after they return.

When it comes down to it, we are actually not really sure what to do

Regardless of the number of multiplied duties, such an employee should start the day with such training. Law is law and there is nothing to argue with. In many cases, this is not the first time such a person has been through similar training, so we can expect routine and a lack of full concentration. In addition, more or less consciously, the selection of absorbed knowledge will begin. It is impossible to be good at everything, but it is at least worth knowing where to look for such knowledge in an emergency situation.

Unfortunately, there is something in that. In stressful situations, and especially during work accidents or other incidents, procedural errors are common or, even worse, negligence becomes exposed, such as an incomplete first aid kit or an out-of-date fire extinguisher. Who is responsible for this will be discussed in another article.

In addition, if you are a trainer in the company, as a matter of curiosity, I recommend doing a little test – ask 5 random people you meet in the office where the first aid kit is located, whether the company has an AED – if so, where it is and who should be informed if an accident happens. This small research sample can show you the points to work on.

Additional education

There is a reason why people in sport or dancing talk about muscle memory. Our brains also need some work such as repetition, consolidation, refreshing, therefore if we follow the reasoning that periodic training is carried out once every 5-6 years (we are talking about white-collar positions), this is far too long a time to expect any employee to be fully fluent in what they know. What can we do as HR? The simplest thing would be to leave it as it is, after all, the rules are followed. However, the role of HR is also to keep an eye on employee safety, and so … we cannot stand back.

Either way. In addition to the compulsory training, I always rely on additional education:

  • Educate on the value of possessing this kind of knowledge.
  • Additional health and safety training as part of on-boarding.
  • Training in a nutshell – annual reminders.
  • Education and emergency procedures covered in detail.
  • A detailed evacuation map , available both online and in printed version.
  • Self-checking of the contents of first aid kits, validity of fire extinguishers, location of instructions in the offices and online.

What else can you do?

  • Check the contents of the first aid kit yourself by keeping a regular inventory – paying attention to expiry dates and changes in regulatory provisions.
  • Be in contact with those responsible for the validity of fire extinguishers.
  • When passing through the office, make sure that fire extinguishers and escape doors are not obstructed/covered.
  • Complete health and safety instructions in two languages (if you have international staff).
  • Keep an eye on the market and review new educational opportunities.
  • Organise a training / educational integration event, e.g. First Aid training, situational re-enactments.
  • Internal QUIZ with prizes based on health and safety knowledge check.

If I have to, I don’t want to

When I think of compulsory training, the question that comes to my mind is – why do OSH training or PPE have such bad opinion? After all, this is the information that protects us from external factors leading to accidents/incidents. It reminds me a bit of my education in maths – years of boring teaching methods, a fast pace, tailored to the best student in the class and a demanding teacher. These lessons have always been linked to a fair amount of stress and a ‘just to survive’ level of engagement.

I think the biggest challenge for trainers is to dispel this myth and look for solutions to make education in this area a pleasure that each of us reaches for on our own.

text written by:

Aleksandra Lipowska-Rochalska, HR Director