It is the duty of every employer to ensure the health and safety of his employees. For this reason, he should ensure that his employees are trained in OSH. Anyone who is familiar with this topic has certainly heard of initial and periodic training in occupational health and safety. Sometimes, however, even employers themselves do not know the difference between the two. Employers should know when they have to do this and whether it is compulsory in each case. Health and safety is an important area for any business, so it is worth knowing the details of health and safety training, including the legal issues.

General about initial training

Let's start with the initial training in occupational safety and health, which is necessary to work in a given position. If a person has already taken up a job in the same capacity with the same employer, they do not have to undergo training again (e.g. extension of a contract concluded for a probationary period). Initial training is divided into two parts - general and job-specific. As for the first part, thanks to it, a future employee gets acquainted with the regulations concerning health and safety at work. This is also when he/she learns the rules of first aid in case of an accident, and also learns the regulations concerning the organisation of work in the company. The general part of the initial training is carried out by a person who is authorised to do so - this may be the employer himself or a person delegated by him to deal with occupational safety and health. Job-specific training is closely related to the job. The employee learns what the risks of the job are and is aware of the factors involved in that environment. This part is the responsibility of the manager or employer. When the training is finished, it must be documented with the initial training card. It is important to know that, apart from the exception mentioned above (successive contract with the same employer), it is not possible to exempt either party from the obligations of initial training in occupational safety and health.


Periodic training - information 

The second type of OSH course, periodic training, serves to remind and supplement the employee's knowledge in this area. It is necessary due to changing regulations, although it is possible to be exempt from it. The form of training can be, for example, a seminar, a course or guided self-study - in the case of the latter, it can be done remotely. Employers, managers and supervisors must undergo this training at least once every 5 years. As for employees in blue-collar jobs, they are required to undergo such training at least once every three years, and at least once a year if their work is particularly hazardous. For engineers and technicians and those in occupational health and safety, the course is necessary at least once every 5 years. The last category are those occupying administrative and office positions, provided that the nature of their work involves risk to health or life - such persons must undergo periodic training at least once every 6 years. If the employer carries out activities that do not belong to the appropriate risk category, employees in such positions are not obliged to undergo retraining. It is important to remember that the first periodic training must be carried out within a year of an employee's employment, or within 6 months in the case of managerial positions. It ends with an examination and, if passed, a certificate will be issued.

What does the law say? 

Article 237 § 1 of the Labour Code states that a person without qualifications or skills and knowledge of health and safety regulations absolutely cannot be allowed to work. The next paragraph contains information on the obligation of the employer to provide training. The initial training of an employee must take place before the employee starts work on a given position. As for periodic training, it must be repeated from time to time. When taking up a job, it is important to remember that the employee does not pay for the course. All training is paid for by the employer and takes place during working hours. However, it is possible that the training will be done at another time, in which case the employee is entitled to remuneration and an overtime allowance, or an appropriate amount of time off. Article 237 of the Labour Code sets out the employer's obligation to familiarise and instruct employees on the health and safety regulations applicable to them. The employee must confirm in writing that he has familiarised himself with them.

Course of initial training 

We have already looked at the general information on the two types of OSH training. Now let us turn our attention to how the initial instruction takes place. The general part of the training needs no further explanation, as it consists of learning the basic rules. The job part (also called environmental part) should be divided into stages. Firstly, the instructor (i.e. the employer, master or foreman) is to conduct an initial interview with the employee. Next, the person authorized to conduct the training shows and explains what the worker must do on his job. Then, the employee tries to do what he/she will have to do, and the instructor makes any corrections. Finally, the person carries out his or her work at the assigned position independently, and the trainer only monitors how it goes. Everything should end with a test verifying the employee's skills. It is worth adding that the whole training must last no less than 90 minutes.

Exemption from periodic training 

As previously mentioned, it is possible to exempt an employee from periodic safety training. This is possible if the employee presents a current certificate of completion of a course with a different employer, but for the same position for which he intends to be employed. It is also possible to exempt an employee from periodic training if the employee has undergone periodic training in a different position, and the curriculum of the previous course overlaps with the training for the new duties.

Health and safety at work are important issues that neither employer nor employee can do without. Knowledge of the legal issues will help to avoid possible misunderstandings. It is worth remembering that if an employer fails to comply with the obligation to carry out health and safety training, the State Labour Inspectorate will react and may impose a fine. The initial training is important for our safety in the future workplace. Knowledge of the latest regulations will also be useful to us, which is why periodic training is worthwhile. Although there are opportunities to be exempted from them, let's not give it up, as it will pay off in the future. Finally, it is also important to remember that the employer must keep our certificates for each training course in the personnel file.