Refresher training: Retraining done by a person who is already qualified or has been previously assessed as competent in a specific field with the intent of updating knowledge and or skills or ensuring that no knowledge or skills have been lost.
Refresher training plays a crucial role in maintaining competence and staying updated with industry standards and best practices. While some may question the necessity of refresher courses, this article aims to address common queries and highlight the significance of ongoing training. Whether it's ensuring compliance with evolving laws and policies, identifying and correcting bad habits, or adapting to industry changes, refresher training serves as a valuable tool for everyone across various sectors.
1. Reinforcing Knowledge and Skills
Refresher training serves to refresh and enhance existing knowledge and skills. After the initial training, workers can benefit from periodic reinforcement to solidify their understanding and stay up to date with the latest developments in their field. By revisiting procedure and safety requirements, individuals can maintain a high level of competence and confidence in their abilities.
2. Staying up to date with Industry changes
Industries are dynamic, and regulations, laws, and policies can evolve over time. Refresher training ensures that professionals remain well-informed about any changes that may impact their work. If a worker has been away from work for a long period of leave, illness or secondment, they should receive refresher training when they return. By staying up to date with the latest industry standards and best practices, individuals can adapt their skills and knowledge, accordingly, ensuring compliance and maintaining a high level of professionalism.
3. Identifying and Correcting Bad Habits
Refresher training provides an opportunity to reflect on established practices and identify any bad habits that may have developed over time. By revisiting fundamental principles and techniques, workers can assess their work habits and make necessary adjustments to improve efficiency and safety. Addressing and rectifying bad habits through refresher training can lead to enhanced performance and reduced risks in the workplaces. Refresher training reduces the chances of that happening which could potentially lead to penalties.
4. Industry Examples: Forklift Operations and Beyond
Certain industries, such as forklift operations, explicitly recommend refresher training at regular intervals in their Approved Code of Practice. In the case of forklift operators, retraining every three years is recommended to ensure they remain knowledgeable about safety protocols and industry guidelines. While refresher training may not be legally mandated in all industries, the proactive approach of staying updated and refreshed contributes to maintaining a high standard of work and reducing potential hazards.
5. Unit Standards and Refreshers
It is common for individuals to inquire about the absence of unit standards on the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) after completing a refresher course. It is important to note that, unlike initial training, VHNZ refresher courses may not include formal assessments against unit standards. The primary objective of refresher training is to update knowledge and reinforce skills rather than acquire new unit standards. However, it is crucial to emphasise that once a unit standard is achieved, it does not expire. Regardless of the absence of unit standards on NZQA records following refresher training, the achieved unit standards remain valid and will be retained on the individual's Record of Achievement (ROA).
There are also a number of other benefits to doing refresher training.
- Helps employees retain important information – repeated training ensures workers retain key health and safety information and improves long-term competence and safe behaviours.
- Helps PCBU’s (employers) identify any knowledge gaps or training needs – Refresher training allows PCBUs to plot where there might be a need for extra training. You might, for example, notice through workplace inspections or audits that workers are not following safe systems of work.
- Reduces the chances of mistakes and boosts productivity – Refresher training means the required actions become second nature, and workers are less likely to make mistakes. This results in improved productivity, reduced downtime an accidents, incidents and ill-health.
- Encourages a collaborative and continuous learning culture – Regular training ensures everyone in the organisation is on the same page. It means that all workers understand the need for health and safety and recognise that learning and being fully up to date on safe systems of work, safety policies and procedures is a key art of their job.
WorkSafe New Zealand (WorkSafe) describes the need for training to ensure the health and safety of workers “The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) requires a PCBU to provide whatever information, instruction, training and supervision is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of workers (employees). This is expanded by the Health and Safety at Work (general Risk and Workplace Management) Regulations 2016, which identify situations where health and safety training is particularly important.”
There are specific situations where refresher training becomes necessary to ensure the health and safety of workers. These include but are not limited to the following scenarios:
- Changes in processes – If an organisation’s health and safety internal processes change, refresher training should be provided so workers know how they should behave and what they should be aware of.
- New equipment – If a new equipment or machinery is introduced in the workplace, refresher training that considers the findings from a risk assessment and how to use the new equipment safely should be provided to the relevant workers.
- After an incident – If an accident or near miss occurs within your organisation that leads to someone being injured or not, refresher or updating training may be recommended as part of the investigation process and will help workers reconfirm understanding of safe systems of work, processes and responsibilities or any new requirements.
Refresher training plays a vital role in sustaining competence, adapting to industry changes, and maintaining a high level of professionalism. By periodically refreshing knowledge and skills, workers can stay up to date with evolving standards and ensure they are well-equipped to handle their responsibilities. While legal requirements may vary across industries, the proactive approach of participating in refresher courses demonstrates a commitment to personal growth, safety, and continued excellence in one's field.