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Labour Relations Aspects of Training

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A training system should be a constituent of an overall human resource development policy and programme. This may be at the enterprise, industry or national level. Its practical implementation will be greatly assisted if paid educational leave is available (see box). Where such arrangements are not incorporated into national legislation (as they are in the Labour Codes of France and Spain, for example), then leave entitlement to attend appropriate occupational safety and health training should be negotiated by representatives of employers and workers as part of the collective bargaining process.

Highlights of the ILO Paid Educational Leave Convention, 1974 (No. 140)

Aim of the standard

To promote education and training during working hours, with financial entitlements.


A ratifying State is to formulate and apply a policy designed to promote the granting of paid educational leave for training at any level; general, social and civic education; trade union education.

This policy is to take account of the stage of development and the particular needs of the country and shall be coordinated with general policies concerning employment, education and training, and hours of work.

Paid educational leave shall not be denied to workers on the grounds of race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin.

Financing shall be on a regular and adequate basis.

The period of paid educational leave shall be treated as a period of effective service for the purpose of establishing claims to social benefits and other rights deriving from the employment relationship.

by Chapter Editor (excerpted from ILO Convention No. 140, 1974).

Any negotiated arrangements for training would identify appropriate subject matter as well as administrative, financial and organizational arrangements. Training on occupational safety and health should embrace the following:

  • health and safety laws and means of enforcement
  • employers’ attitudes to health and safety
  • workers’ attitudes to health and safety
  • health and safety issues and the means of improving health and safety practices.


The two key components of any training approach are content and process. These will be determined by the objectives of the training activity and the aspirations of the participants and trainers. The overall objective here would be to contribute to the improvement of health and safety at the workplace and so content should be based on identifying practical means of achieving improvement. Such an approach would require an assessment of the health and safety problems faced by workers. In general terms these should include:

  • safety hazards, such as lifting, carrying, machinery, falls, ladders
  • health hazards and problems, such as eyestrain, chemicals, noise, dust, aches, pains
  • welfare issues, such as washing facilities, first aid, housing.


This methodological approach would allow for the systematic treatment of issues by means of describing the problem and reviewing how it came to be known, who was involved, what action was taken and the result of the action.

An important outcome of this approach is the identification of “good” and “bad” occupational safety and health practices, which, theoretically at least, can provide the basis for common action by employers and workers. To sustain this methodology, important information requirements need to be addressed. These include securing documentation on health and safety laws, standards and technical information and identifying the further information required to resolve the hazard/problem, such as policies or agreements produced by other trade unions and employers and alternative solutions and strategies.

Successful training activity will require the use of active learning methods, which are developed by drawing on the experience, skills, knowledge, attitudes and objectives of participants. Experience and knowledge are reviewed, attitudes are analysed and skills are developed and improved through working collectively. As part of this process, participants are encouraged to apply the results of their training activity to their work environment. This focuses training activity on practical outcomes and relevant content.

Questions that the trainer and trainees need to ask of process and content are: What are we gaining that can be applied to our work environment? Is the training improving our skills and knowledge? Is it helping us to operate more effectively in our work environment?

The trainer should address these questions at the planning, implementation and evaluation stages of any training programme and the methodological process encourages participants to make the same demands during the process of training activity.

Such a method, often referred to as “learning through doing”, draws widely upon the participants’ experiences, attitudes, skills and knowledge. The objectives of training activity should always refer back to practical outcomes; therefore, training activities should integrate this method. In occupational safety and health programmes this could include the activities outlined in table 1.

Table 1. Practical activities-health and safety training


Related skills

Identifying hazards

Critical analysis

Sharing information

Reviewing information

Problem solving

Critical analysis

Sharing information

Working collectively

Developing strategies

Finding information

Using resources

Researching skills

Re-using information

Forming attitudes

Critical analysis

Re-evaluation of attitudes

Effective argument and debate


Occupational safety and health training has the potential to develop workers’ and employers’ awareness of issues and to provide a basis for common action and agreement on how problems can be overcome. In practical terms, good health and safety practice not only provides for improvement in the working environment and potential productivity gains, but also encourages a more positive attitude to labour relations on the part of the social partners.



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