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Health and Safety and Adult Learners in the Learning and Skills Sector

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PHOTO REDACTED DUE TO THIRD PARTY RIGHTS OR OTHER LEGAL ISSUES Health and Safety and Adult Learners in the Learning and Skills Sector April 2006 of interest to managers and practitioners working with younger
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PHOTO REDACTED DUE TO THIRD PARTY RIGHTS OR OTHER LEGAL ISSUES Health and Safety and Adult Learners in the Learning and Skills Sector April 2006 of interest to managers and practitioners working with younger learners and apprentices as well as adult learners in learning providers and student teachers. PHOTO REDACTED DUE TO THIRD PARTY RIGHTS OR OTHER LEGAL ISSUES PHOTO REDACTED DUE TO THIRD PARTY RIGHTS OR OTHER LEGAL ISSUES This booklet underlines the Learning and Skills Council s commitment to the very highest standards of health and safety. It can be used as a guide and basis for staff training and development by managers, and directly by practitioners to improve their health and safety, and general, practice. The approach is focused on practitioners rather than management processes and systems. The booklet has relevance to managers and practitioners working with younger learners and apprentices as well as adult learners in learning providers throughout the learning and skills sector. It may be useful for people studying for teaching qualifications. Acknowledgement Main Author - David Ewens Health and Safety and Adult Learners in the Learning and Skills Sector 3 Contents Paragraph Numbers Introduction 1 The Learning and Skills Council and Health and Safety: An Overview 7 The Adult Learner and Health and Safety 19 Special Groups of Adult Learners and Health and Safety 35 Health and safety and learners with disabilities 36 Health and safety and learners with mental health difficulties 52 Health and safety and older learners 65 Risk Assessment and Adult Learners 70 Embedding Good Health and Safety Practice for Adult Learners 80 What to embed 80 Embedding good health and safety practice at practitioner level 81 Practitioner induction 82 Health and safety induction of adult learners 87 Using the health and safety National Occupational Standards 92 Health and safety, qualifications and accreditation 94 Health and safety and quality 100 Support for High Standards of Health and Safety for Adult Learners 103 Summary 106 Annex: Bibliography Further Information Health and Safety and Adult Learners in the Learning and Skills Sector Introduction 1 This booklet underlines the Learning and Skills Council s commitment to the very highest standards of health and safety, at the heart of which is doing as much as possible to eliminate accidents and near misses. It is intended to supplement other work we have undertaken to support the health and safety of younger learners, including apprentices and those on Entry to Employment (E2E) and other learning programmes, and the work of other agencies such as the Standards Unit of the Department for Education and Science (DfES), which has produced a high-quality framework for teaching and learning based on the theme of health and safety for young learners in the construction industry. 2 Whilst focusing firmly and uncompromisingly on high standards of health and safety, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) echoes concerns amongst policy makers that we need to keep the balance in proportion between risk and the potential damage it can cause. We need to maintain a focus on common sense and encourage learners (and others) to be 'risk aware' rather than overly 'risk averse'. We cannot eliminate all risk, and we should not be paralysed by the 'mystique' of health and safety that inhibits activity. Good health and safety practice is about inclusion and facilitating activity, not prevention. 6 Given that good practice in health and safety is complex and that we intend this booklet to be accessible and succinct, we cover general practices rather than give detailed advice and guidance. The approach is focused on practitioners rather than management processes and systems, and on practitioners 'doing' health and safety practice rather than 'having it done' to them. We include many references to where further information can be obtained. This booklet has equal relevance to managers and practitioners working with adult learners in learning providers throughout the learning and skills sector. It can be used as a guide and basis for staff training and development by managers, and directly by practitioners to improve their health and safety, and general, practice. It may be useful for people studying for teaching qualifications. 3 The booklet reviews our current emphasis on young adult learners and the concept of the safe learner. What applies to young adult learners applies equally to adult learners. However, the LSC recognises that there are differences between these two categories of learner that make adjustments in approach to health and safety appropriate for those providers who work exclusively with adults or who have large numbers of adults pursuing learning opportunities with them. 4 Following an exploration of the nature of adult learners and adult learning and the consequences for health and safety, there are sections on health and safety in relation to particular groups of adult learners: those with disabilities; those with mental health difficulties; and older learners undertaking physical exercises. The rationale behind this focus is to provide insights into health and safety when linked with other LSC core values such as equality and diversity, and to give attention to particular areas of concern highlighted by the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI) amongst others. 5 After these sections is a key discussion of risk management, and a number of principles for achieving high standards of health and safety emerge. How to embed them in practitioners' work so that health and safety practice is liberating and inclusive rather than restricting and exclusive is the next stage. We show how this might be achieved for adult learners and their tutors, lecturers, trainers (referred to throughout as practitioners) and their managers. 5 The Learning and Skills Council and Health and Safety: An Overview 7 The health, safety and welfare of learners is a fundamental value of the LSC. All learners are entitled to learning that takes place in a safe, healthy and supportive environment. Our policy statement summarises our approach (LSC, 2004a). 8 Our two main objectives are raising standards and seeking assurance. Within these two objectives there are three connected themes or areas of health and safety on which the LSC focuses: the safe, healthy and supportive environment the 'safe learner' concept health and safety management' (LSC, 2004b, paragraph 4). 9 This booklet does not deal directly with health and safety management in relation to adult learning as there are other good sources of information. A general, widely adopted model, known as HSG65, is provided by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) (HSE, 2003). Ewens (2003) gives a clear and comprehensive overview of this model applied to adult and community learning (ACL), and this model is relevant to other parts of the learning and skills sector. 10 Dealing with 'seeking assurance' first, the approach is that higher risks require more assurance, and conversely that lower risks require less, though not in the sense of a 'lighter touch'. The process of 'seeking assurance' will itself 'identify actions for improvement in learner health and safety and will therefore contribute to the raising of standards (LSC, 2004b, paragraph 11). Raising standards includes two aspects: the concept of 'the safe learner' and 'working in partnership'. LSC, 2004b, paragraphs 11 and 12, outline in more detail the concept of the safe learner. The key sentence in paragraph 11 is: The LSC wants all learners, through the quality of their learning experience, to gain an understanding of the importance of health and safety to help them identify and control risk and assume responsibility for their own health and safety and that of others that is, for learners to take a positive and practical perspective on health and safety from their experience. 11 We explore the concept of the safe learner in relation to adults in more detail in paragraph In our twin aims of seeking assurance and raising standards, we are committed to working in partnership to support good practice, ensure consistency of approach and reduce bureaucracy. We operate in clear and well-defined ways at local office, regional and national level within the LSC to achieve these aims. We work with external agencies such as the HSE, Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), qualifications awarding bodies and Sector Skills Councils to achieve our aims. Our National Learner Safety Partnership Group is a major and active consultation forum for advancing our work. 13 The LSC undertakes a considerable amount of practical activity in support of its objectives, often with a focus on young learners. The LSC procurement standards reflect the main health and safety legal requirements for use in assessing organisations that receive learners. These standards are summarised below. 14 The employer: has a health and safety policy has assessed risks, eliminated them or put in place control measures to reduce them to an acceptable level has made adequate arrangements for dealing with accidents and incidents, including the provision of first aid provides employees with effective supervision, training, information and instruction provides and maintains suitable and appropriate equipment and machinery has made arrangements for the provision and of personal protective equipment and clothing suitable for the individual has fire precautions and has made arrangements for other foreseeable emergencies provides a safe and healthy working environment manages health and safety. 15 Box 1 gives an example of how a local authority (LA) complies with LSC health and safety requirements. 16 Our emphasis on young learners is shown in a further standard, 'Manages learners' and young persons' health, safety and welfare', with details of risk assessment specifically for young learners, control measures, prohibitions and restrictions, supervision, induction and personal and protective equipment. There are references in this standard to 'inexperience and immaturity' in making risk assessments (LSC, 2004c, page 6). The 'Pocket Guide to Supervising Learner Health and Safety' (LSC, 2003) is an earlier publication designed to 'highlight some of the main health and safety considerations when taking a new young person into the workplace' (LSC, 2003, page 2). That the young learner is considered different is shown by the view that sources of harm can include 'psycho-social' pressures such as peer pressure and that what may be considered safe for an experienced adult may not be safe for the younger employee. Health and Safety and Adult Learners in the Learning and Skills Sector Box 1: Complying with LSC health and safety requirements. Suffolk County Council Adult and Community Learning As part of its commitment to good health and safety practice, the service issues a 'Health and Safety Pack' to tutors, consisting of a number of sections. How to use the pack (to be used flexibly and as a working tool) A table identifying forms, when and how to use them, who should use them and who should have a completed copy. Health and safety checklist (for venues) A table identifying safety responsibility and who should undertake it for Suffolk County Council and other premises, dealing with all aspects of premises from fabric and cleanliness to first aid equipment. Individual and general risk assessment forms Risk assessment tutor checklist A form covering building safety, equipment safety, learning support, fitness of learners, fire exits, fire evacuation, emergency communication (including mobile phone and signal), register details, complete first aid box, risks to personal safety. 17 Another LSC publication, Be Safe! An introductory guide to health and safety (LSC, 2004d), is designed specifically for the young learner, reporting on the second page that in 2004 'approximately 945 young people were injured and 5 killed on work-based learning'. The booklet covers in plain language all the basic aspects of health and safety and implicitly advances the philosophy of 'the safe learner'. The increased numbers of learners under the age of 16 coming into the learning and skills sector has led to the issue of LSC Guidelines for FE Colleges Providing for Young Learners (Leacan 14+, 2004). Part 2e covers health and safety, child protection and work experience issues and offers detailed guidance. 18 The LSC's concentration on the health and safety needs of young learners has been shaped by the high degree of accidents and incidents, some fatal, to this group. However, the imperative to 'seek assurance' from providers about the quality of health and safety they provide and to raise standards, interlinked with the themes of safe and healthy environments, the 'safe learner' and management of health and safety, applies to adult learners as well as younger ones. The next section explores the nature of adult learners and learning and how this may affect approaches to the LSC's principal health and safety objectives and themes. Risk assessment learner checklist Safe working practices aide-memoire Health and safety guidance for CEOs and line managers (for induction) Health screening information form (for learners) with guidance (for tutors) 7 The Adult Learner and Health and Safety 19 In general, what applies to young learners in terms of health and safety also applies to adult learners. Adult learners need to be able to undertake their learning in a healthy, safe and supportive environment. They need to be introduced to the fundamental principle of the safe learner so that they can identify and control risk and assume responsibility for their own health and safety and that of others (LSC 2004b, paragraph 11). The hazards they face are the same as those faced by younger learners: slips, trips and falls; dirt and contact with chemicals; machinery; incorrect lifting and carrying; working at heights; electricity; hand tools and knives; working with computers; fire; personal safety. 20 However, in important respects adult learners have different characteristics from younger learners and pose different problems. Tuckett (2005, pages 2 3), discussing adults in further education where they constitute colleges' core business, outlines some of these characteristics. Adult learners predominantly study part time. A significant proportion of adult participation is for personal fulfilment and community development, the need for which will grow. The rationale for this is economic as well as for social justice. Many adults are alienated from structured education and training. Their learning is 'untidy' (Tuckett, 2005, page 3) in that it fits in with other demands. They may study in short bursts, drop out and return to different institutions. Their progression is often more akin to moving up, round and down a climbing frame rather than vertically up a ladder. They have more and wider experience and their motivation is complex. Exploring these differences will inform various approaches to health and safety and health and safety management. 21 Another way of considering adult learners and their characteristics, in comparison with younger learners, is through an 'andragogical' model put forward by Knowles et al. (1998). This model proposes a set of principles that characterise adult learning generally. Andragogy was presented as a contrast to 'conventional education' in broad terms, approaches to education appropriate to children and younger learners. This 'conventional education' generally assumed that teachers control what will be learned, when and how it will be learned and if it has been learned. It assumed that 'learners only need to know that they must learn what the teacher teaches ' and that 'the teacher's concept of the learner is that of a dependent personality' (Knowles et al., 1998, page 62). In practical terms, of course, the distinctions between principles for adult learning and the learning of young people are becoming more blurred in the 21st century, and what applies to adults increasingly applies to others, but some are still important. Andragogy is explored by Tushing and Barton (2003, pages 19 22) in their review of models of adult learning. Despite some reservations, the concept is very useful as a basis for exploring health and safety in adult learning contexts. 22 Core andragogical principles are as follows (adapted from Knowles et al., 1998, page 4): learner's need to know (why, what, how) self-concept of the learner (autonomous, self-directing) prior experience of the learner (resource, mental models) readiness to learn (life-related, developmental task) orientation to learning (problem-centred, contextual) motivation to learn (intrinsic value, personal payoff). 23 These principles partly emerged from the earlier 'key assumptions' of Lindeman (in Knowles et al., 1998, page 40): Adults are motivated to learn as they experience needs and interests that learning will satisfy. Adults' orientation to learning is life-centred. Experience is the richest source for adults learning. Adults have a deep need to be self-directing. Individual differences among people increase with age. 24 The core principles of the andragogical model are presented as 'transactional'. That is, they are not necessarily concerned with the specific goals and aims of adults who are learning, and they do not preclude the effects of individual learning differences and differences in particular learning situations. They can be applied as overarching principles. 25 This section explains the core principles in more detail, based on Knowles et al. (1998, pages 64 68). 'Need to know', the first core principle, is about adults knowing why they need to know something before starting their learning. 26 Adult learners generally have a self-concept of being responsible for their own decisions and their own lives (the second core principle). They need to feel that they are autonomous and self-directing. When adult learners are ready to return to learning, they often don't want to be reminded of school, their previously directed experiences and 'required dependency' unless they have benefited from this approach and made a successful journey to autonomy. If they have not, they may well withdraw from learning situations. 27 The third core principle is about the role of adult learners' experiences, which is more than and different from younger learners'. Groups of adult learners will be more diverse in terms of background, learning style, motivation, needs, interest, aims and purposes. Groups of adult learners constitute a rich resource and experiential learning methods are generally guaranteed success. However, it has also been recognised that the experience of adult learners can have negative effects, since habits, biases and suppositions close minds to new ideas and alternative ways of thinking. Teachers of adult learners need to develop sensitivity in tackling resistance to change, especially when rejecting prior experience can be construed as rejecting people themselves. Health and Safety and Adult Learners in the Learning and Skills Sector Figure 1: Core principles of adult learning and health and safety and health and safety management. Principle Effect on health and safety and health and safety management Example Adult learners' need to know why they need to learn something before undertaking to learn it Adult learners' self-concept As self-direction is important to them, adult learners will resent and resist situations where an external will is imposed on them. Taking responsibility for their own health, safety and welfare will mean that they incorporate it into their learning. Adult learners in a welding class will not just want to be told to wear personal protective equipment at all times. They will want to discuss why it is important and the inherent dangers of welding activity. The role of adult learners' experience This is probabl
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