Further guidance from the HSE on formal training during COVID-19

THE FOREST INDUSTRY STANDARD

Further guidance from the HSE on formal training during COVID-19

06 May 2020

Guidance on formal training and refresher training in agriculture, arboriculture, aquaculture and forestry

Top Lines

  • HSE recognises that businesses may have employees (users) and self-employed people whose requalification training (e.g. chainsaw users, tree workers, forestry machine operators, sprayer operators, ATV users, plant and equipment drivers, sea crane operators, persons working over open water) is due and there may be difficulties renewing because of availability of providers and assessors, or staff being absent from the normal workplace. Where this is the case, the business/employer must continue to ensure that the person remains competent to do that work.
  • PLEASE NOTE: See separate COVID-19 LTT on training for rider-operated lift trucks (e.g. telehandlers, fork-lift trucks – FLTs). This has been reproduced as guidance by RTITB and the Fork Lift Truck Association

Guidance for Trainers/Assessors

  • As capacity to train and assess workers may be limited, HSE expects training providers to consider which of their activities are critical to supporting Key Workers and prioritise their work accordingly. 
  • In agriculture, forestry and related industries HSE suggests training providers prioritise specified high-risk work activities where recognised standards of formal training and/or competence are required, (e.g. chainsaw users, tree workers, forestry machine operators, fork-lift truck/telehandler operators, sprayer operators, ATV users, sea cranes, working over open water). 
  • Any training providers who are working with Key Workers should adjust their activities to follow Government (principally Public Health England) regarding good hygiene practices and separation distances, and if relevant accommodate any site-specific rules to manage the risk of COVID-19 infection.  They should also consider and apply government guidelines relating to non-essential travel and homeworking. 
  • Trainers and assessors  may already have access to resources that can be used on line or remotely to deliver partial or full refresher training without the need for site visits. Alternatively they may be able to develop these resources to deliver refresher training in this way. 
  • Where practical demonstrations of ongoing competence are required these should be carried out so far as is reasonably practicable in line with the current guidelines e.g. submitted video evidence or, if this can’t be achieved, rescheduled in the near future. 
  • If requalification training cannot take place for reasons associated directly with coronavirus, such as complying with other government advice on isolation and social distancing, it may be reasonable and practicable to extend the validity of current certificates by up to 3 months. This approach should only be taken if there is no reason to suspect the operator is no longer competent. Businesses should be able to describe clearly their reasons for delaying requalification training or assessment and demonstrate steps they have taken to undertake the refresher training by other means, if required. 
  • This guidance comes into effect for certificates expiring on or after 16th March 2020. HSE will review this matter over the coming months and will issue further statements as necessary. 

Guidance for employers and the self-employed (users) 

  • There is no relaxation of the requirements for new and existing users of agricultural work equipment to have received adequate information, instruction and training for the purposes of health and safety. Employers and self-employed users should continue to manage their activities so that training (and where necessary formal assessment) continues where possible. 
  • New users – 
    • People new to a task should not be allowed to use work equipment until they have received adequate training, and where necessary formal assessment. 
  • Existing trained users – 
    • HSE recognises that businesses may have employees (users) and self-employed people whose requalification training (e.g. chainsaw users, tree workers, forestry machine operators, sprayer operators, ATV users, plant and equipment drivers, sea cranes, working over open water) is due and there may be difficulties renewing because of availability of providers and assessors, or staff being absent from the normal workplace. Where this is the case, the business/employer must continue to ensure that the person remains competent to do that work. 
    • Alternative arrangements that comply with government guidelines of avoiding non-essential travel, homeworking and social distancing should be made to make use of available resources (in house, written or online) to refresh their knowledge where possible. Where practical demonstrations of ongoing competence are required these should be carried out so far as is reasonably practicable in line with the current guidelines e.g. submitting video evidence or, if this can’t be achieved, rescheduled in the near future. 
    • If requalification training cannot take place for reasons associated directly with coronavirus, such as complying with other government advice on isolation and social distancing, it may be reasonable and practicable to extend the validity of current certificates by up to 3 months. 
    • Businesses should be able to describe clearly their reasons for delaying requalification training or assessment and demonstrate steps they have taken to undertake the refresher training by other means, if required. 
    • This guidance comes into effect for certificates expiring on or after 16th March 2020. HSE will review this matter over the coming months and will issue further statements as necessary. 
    • This approach should only be taken if there is no reason to suspect the operator is no longer competent. Where existing users have been found to have developed unsafe working practices or where there are other concerns about ongoing competence (e.g. have had an accident or near miss) they should not continue to use equipment until refresher training and where necessary formal reassessment has been successfully completed.