The Importance of the H&S Briefing

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fire alarmHave you ever wondered why you do a Health and Safety brieing at the start of every face-to-face session?  Or have you just always trotted out the same old speech about fire exits, fire alarms and fire drills that you always have without ever really giving it much thought?

I’ll be honest, for many years I did just go through these things because it was what I was told to do (when I was a new trainer) and it was a habit.  I had never really given it a whole lot of thought.

Until one day, I was facilitating a session away from my employers (at the time) offices and the fire alarm went off.  At the time I had small groups of delegates dotted around the venue working on a case study.  I had a momentary panic wondering whether I should go and look for them or just leave.. should I lock the training room door, or would they come back for their things?  It took only a second for my H&S briefing to come back to me:

“if the fire alarm does sound, please treat it as a real evacuation and leave through your nearest emergency exit.  If you are in this room, your nearest exit is xxxxx.  If you are working elsewhere, please take a moment to locate the nearest exit before you begin the task so you can leave directly should the alarm sound.  Please DO NOT return to this room in the event of an evacuation, even to collect personal belongings”.

So I headed, with the remaining delegates straight for the fire exit and out to the meeting point.

The venue evacuated well and fortunately is turned out to be a false alarm but it did get me thinking about the H&S briefing I’d carried out at the start of the day:

  • Had I been clear enough?
  • Was the information correct?
  • Were my instructions detailed enough?

Once we were outside a fire marshall came along and asked me if all my delegates were out.  I only had a small group that day so I know all 10 of them had gotten safely out of the building.  But I realised that I hadn’t lifted the sign-in sheet.  So had the circumstances been different and there had been a real fire and/or I had been working with a much larger number of delegates, I would have been unable to easily work if who (if anyone) was missing.  The possible implications of this horrified me and ever since I have made a point of keeping the attendance list accessible should I need to evacuate again.

I would highly recommend to all of you to take 10mins to review the Health & Safety briefings that you deliver in any of your sessions to make sure that should a situation occur you are ready!


If you want to find out more about your legal responsibilities as a trainer, check out our new Trainers CPD Club.


Founder of Zostera Ltd and The Trainers CPD Club. I've worked in L&D for over 16 years across both the public and private sectors.

Posted in Facilitation, The Unintentional Trainers Guide To...., Training Tagged with: ,

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