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Top quality fall protection training delivers wellbeing and business benefits

18 January 2019

Companies that overlook top quality fall protection training do so at their peril, according to Phil Rashbrook, European Training Manager for Fall Protection at MSA Safety. MSA Safety is a global designer, manufacturer and distributor of industry-leading safety products.

Here, Phil explains why investing in fall protection training is a must for safety conscious employers responsible for the safety of those working at height. Phil has been educating people about working at height and confined space access in the industrial sector for 12 years. Before that, he spent 20 years in mountaineering.

Benjamin Franklin once said: ‘an investment in knowledge always pays the best interest’ and, according to the Association for Talent Development, companies offering comprehensive employee training have a 218 per cent higher income per employee than companies that do not.

The benefits of quality training are obvious, yet it is often overlooked. It should be an essential part of any business, especially when employees are working at height and faced with potentially significant risks. Unfortunately, fall protection training remains largely unaudited and not all providers offer top quality training - and that is what’s needed in order to add real value to your business. 

What does top quality training look like?

In a nutshell, it is teaching people comprehensively how to work safely at height, which includes so much more than simply showing them how to put on a harness, for example. Quality training should implement a holistic approach, with a focus on both theoretical and practical training. 

Theory may include, for instance, an overview of legislation and best approaches, including comprehensive risk assessment processes, the technical aspects of working at height and additional emergency considerations.

It’s then a case of putting that knowledge into practice. This could include the fitting of harnesses, knowing which lanyards to select and how to use them, and generally ensuring that the correct fall protection equipment is being used in the right way.

One of the most important by-products of quality training is improved confidence, both in knowing the limitations of the equipment and how to use it properly, and in making the right decisions while working at height. Armed with this confidence, people working at height should feel empowered to thoroughly and accurately assess their surroundings for safety risks, ask questions and raise potential safety concerns with their site or safety manager.

Something that is often forgotten is the value of keeping training fun and engaging. In my experience, if you enjoy training you will learn and retain more information. An enjoyable experience generally helps to nurture a positive change in attitude.

The location of the training is really important. If possible, it’s best to train people on their own site. This makes training lifelike and realistic and therefore more relevant to them. The best providers should always offer bespoke training that is tailored to each business’s unique environment and work scenarios. This can be achieved by a provider with a vast wealth of experience across a wide array of sectors.

If it is not possible to carry out training on site, then the next best option is a state-of-the-art training centre with both indoor facilities which are protected from inclement weather, and outdoor facilities with multiple applications. 

Added benefits from quality providers

There is, unfortunately, no overall auditing or governing body for this type of training. Businesses operating in the work at height arena therefore need to be able to trust that their training provider can offer the expertise, knowledge and experience to cover a wide array of eventualities and applications. 

Typically, with top quality training comes additional benefits, such as assistance with developing and implementing rescue plans. These crucial plans outline how to rescue people in the event of a fall from height. It is a legal requirement for businesses to have rescue plans in place for those working at height, and legislation recommends that businesses should be capable of dealing with this and not be reliant on the help of the fire and rescue service.

Follow-up support is a key feature of a quality training provider. After initial training has been delivered, a provider should offer the option of return visits and continued support, including site audits to ensure that the benefits of training are being realised. 

Importantly, quality training also helps with the creation of safety ambassadors who spread their safety knowledge throughout their company. Employees who complete engaging, comprehensive training can go back to their workplace feeling empowered, and able to competently relay all that they have learnt. 

A sound investment in training

When choosing the right training partner for your business, it is important to consider all of the above because you cannot put a price on the safety of your workers. While it may be cheaper to use a less experienced and less expensive provider in the short-term, there are of course long-term disadvantages. 

You may not have the assurances that the training you have bought has really reached your employees and helped motivate them to become safety ambassadors for your business. Follow-up support is likely to be minimal, if it exists at all, and the provider is unlikely to offer the valuable bespoke, tailor-made training that sufficiently meets your unique needs.

Investing in a top-quality training programme delivered by an experienced specialist provider will undoubtedly not only bring tangible business benefits but improve the general wellbeing of your workforce. Our aim at MSA Safety is to help make the world a safer place by providing people with high quality training. In doing so, we offer businesses the peace of mind that their employees leave us feeling better informed and well prepared to work safely at height.
If you invest in the best training available, you too will find that peace of mind.

About MSA Safety’s training

MSA Safety offers a wide range of fall protection training courses, including PPE: competent person inspection, basic rescue, advanced rescue, and fall protection awareness. It also runs a RIBA approved CPD seminar titled ‘Understanding work at height legislation: how to select and specify fall protection systems to ensure compliance’.

For more information on MSA Safety’s training courses, or to book a seminar, visit www.msasafety.com/training/fall-protection, or contact training.eu@msasafety.com


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