0 Autumn/winter - the ideal time for training

As the summer fades and the pressure of working long hours to keep your facilities in tip top condition eases a little, it's time to turn your thoughts to your autumn work programme.

Responsible employers will already be planning to incorporate regular training sessions during the winter months, to ensure that their grounds staff are adequately prepared to work safely and efficiently, in accordance with PUWER requirements.

A training needs identification audit should always be included during the employee's annual appraisal meeting, and this should address both initial and refresher training on machinery, equipment and Safe Use of Pesticides qualifications. Remember that the HSE recommendation is for refresher training to be carried out every two to three years.

Our "Toolbox Refresher" training is ideal for bringing experienced operatives up to date and reminding them of best practice, in terms of Health and Safety. Also, NPTC/City & Guilds have a course leading to a Certificate of Competence in the Safe Use of Turf Maintenance Equipment, which covers the operation of various types of turf maintenance equipment (scarifiers, aerators, slitters etc). It includes pre-use checks and maintenance; identification of controls and instruments and operating the machine, and can cover both pedestrian controlled and tractor mounted turf maintenance equipment.

Employers will be aware that should an incident occur which leads to prosecution, the first request from a judge or Tribunal chair would be to see evidence of up to date training. Not only should adequate training be arranged, records should be kept of all training, whether attended externally or carried out internally by supervisors or managers.

This is also a good time of the year to assess the success, or otherwise, of the performance of this summer's Seasonal Staff and consider your plans for next year's group. It is never too early to start your initial organisation and we can help with our Induction Training on hand-held equipment - pedestrian mowers, brushcutters, hedgetrimmers etc. It is a good idea to arrange provisional dates with us as early as possible as, come January/February, our Instructors' diaries start to fill up for the spring months.

Early autumn is also an excellent time to consider the Lantra Basic Tree Survey & Inspection course. As I write this in late summer, we have been experiencing some extremely high winds and, just in my local area, there have been several reports of uprooted trees and falling branches. This training is designed to help learners recognise hazardous trees as part of their other duties and then report what has been seen to an appropriate person. Topics covered include:

• State the legal and safety implications of hazardous trees

• Maintain your own health and safety while carrying out Basic Tree Survey and Inspection

• Recognise hazardous trees

• Determine level of risk

• Decide on an appropriate course of action

• Collect and maintain adequate information

• Recognise your own limitations

The maximum number of attendees on this course is 14, so it is ideal for Local Authority and Countryside teams.

All of the above training is available on site, to groups of four or more.

For further information or to request a quote, email chris@pitchcare.com

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