Training and supervision

…because workers must know how to do their jobs safely and be aware of issues that affect their health and safety.

Training is one of the best ways to ensure workers are safe at work. Providing them with effective training and adequate supervision will make them aware of safety issues and help them perform their jobs competently, consistently and safely.

NSW legislation requires businesses and organisations to provide their workers with any information, instruction, training and supervision necessary to ensure their health and safety at work.

Training will ensure that your workers know about issues that affect their health and safety. It will provide them with information about potential risks associated with their work, the safety policies and procedures you have in place, how to work safely, and how to deal with emergencies.

WHERE YOU TICKED IN THE RED ZONE... …your workers are unlikely to have documented instructions to help them do their jobs safely.

Ticks in the RED zone indicate that you need to take action immediately to identify the tasks your workers do that may expose them to safety risks. Work with them to develop simple procedures to do their work safely.

A documented safe work procedure is an ideal training tool. 

Advice sheet 3 shows you how to develop them.

Establish a safety induction process

When you employ a new worker, train them in the policies and procedures that you have established to manage safety in your business. Induction training should include information about: 

  • everyone’s health and safety responsibilities – theirs, yours, your supervisors, managers and officers 
  • reporting safety issues, such as hazards, incidents and injuries 
  • consulting about safety issues 
  • the return to work program 
  • general safety rules, such as using and properly maintaining personal protective equipment 
  • training requirements for specific tasks 
  • emergency procedures 
  • safety data sheets and operators’ manuals.

Review your training information periodically to ensure that it is up-to-date and effective. Where appropriate, provide the information in a training manual and distribute it to your workers.

For special training needs, such as translation services, resources are available from SBS television, industry associations, unions and educational institutions, such as TAFE.

Provide task specific training
If a work task poses a risk to the health and safety of your workers, prepare a safe work procedure. The procedure must be thoroughly understood by anyone undertaking the task.
Inform your workers about the potential safety risks when performing the task, and then explain how to control the risks.
Demonstrate the safe work procedure, step-by-step. Ensure each worker carries out the procedure and assess their performance until they are competent to undertake the task without supervision.

Provide adequate supervision

Work health and safety legislation requires you to provide adequate supervision to ensure the health and safety of your workers.

To determine what adequate supervision is, consider the level of risk in the job, the age of the worker, their experience and competence. Also, consider the requirements of those with disabilities, cultural differences or language problems.

A worker’s signature on a safe work procedure is not a confirmation of their competence. 

Their competence can only be measured by direct observation and assessment by an experienced supervisor.

Ensure that procedures are followed
When a worker fails to follow the safe work procedures, such as not using personal protective equipment when required, treat it like any other breach of discipline. In the first instance, this may require counselling and further training.

Keep training records
Work health and safety legislation requires you to keep training records for certain tasks, such as working in confined spaces and working with hazardous substances.
You might also consider maintaining training records for the induction of new workers and for your safe work procedures. Training records enable you to keep track of who has been trained, how they performed, and what further training is required


. …your workers are being trained and supervised but you must ensure this is done more consistently and effectively.

Ticks in the ORANGE zone generally indicate that there are areas in your training and supervision that you may not be addressing.

A highly competent worker does not necessarily make an effective trainer. Be sure that your supervisors understand their responsibilities regarding training, assessing and supervising – and are appropriately skilled to carry them out.

Identify any areas where there are gaps in your training and supervision 

Are your casual and part-time workers adequately trained and supervised? Are contractors, sub-contractors, volunteers, work-experience students and labour hire staff given onsite induction? Do you have records of this training where required? 

Are maintenance workers and installers of new equipment provided with training in your safe work procedures? Have your labour-hire workers (and their agency) been informed of the potential risks associated with their work tasks? 

Inconsistent performance by your workers may indicate that your training, assessment and supervision need improving. Was training completed successfully before the work task was undertaken? Do your supervisors understand their responsibilities regarding training and supervision? Are they appropriately skilled to undertake training and supervision? Are your workers following the safe work procedures? 

Retrain your workers when appropriate – and provide adequate supervision. Ensure the training records have a sign-off to indicate that training was completed. Undertake periodic assessments of your workers’ performance to identify where further training may be required. 

Whenever there is a change to the workplace or to the way work tasks are undertaken, new safe work procedures need to be implemented – and further training is required. 

To ensure that your workers follow the policies and procedures, and perform consistently, be clear about your expectations and your commitment to a safe workplace.


…you are ensuring that your workers are trained, assessed and supervised to be safe at work. 

Ticks in the GREEN zone indicate that you have the correct processes in place. To ensure they remain effective, review them – and don’t stop there.

Consider how you can improve your training methods, and how you can enhance the consultative arrangements between your workers and supervisors. Consider broader training in work health and safety and risk management issues, and first aid training.

Record of safety meeting (sample)








Safe work procedure for using grinder

Bill Yates

30 minutes

Chris Jones

Catalogue No. WC01388  Copyright WorkCover NSW 1014

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