Training and Vocational Qualifications (VQs)

What you need to know

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires employers to provide their employees with information, instruction, training and supervision necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonable practicable, their health and safety at work .  The self employed also have a duty, so far as is reasonably practicable, to ensure their own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by their work activities.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 also specify situations where health and safety training is particularly important, eg when people start work. There are a number of other regulations with specific training requirements, eg The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER98) specifies the need for training for people who use work equipment.

What you need to do

Everyone at work needs to know how to work safely and without risks to health. Appropriate training enables workers to know about the hazards and risks they may face, the precautions to take (including any emergency procedures), and should help them to gain experience safely . Health and safety training should take place during working hours. It is the responsibility of employers to pay for training needed by their employees. Training is available from a variety of sources including:

  • Lantra, the sector skills council for the land-based sector
  • Trade unions or trade associations
  • Colleges of further or higher education
  • Private training organisation and training providers
  • Independent health and safety consultants
  • Employer bodies or representative organisations
  • Qualification awarding bodies such as City and Guilds NPTC or Lantra Awards
  • Professional industry schemes
  • Local health and safety groups
  • Manufacturers, dealers and suppliers

Recognised standards of formal training and/or competence are normally required for specific tasks or work activities such as:

  • using chainsaws,
  • tree work,
  • applying pesticides,
  • driving all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) such as quad bikes,
  • operating fork-lift trucks or telescopic materials handlers,
  • sheep dipping
  • first aid.

More general health and safety knowledge can be obtained by attending a training course leading to a nationally recognised health and safety vocational qualification (VQ).

Vocational Qualifications

Health and safety VQs are specific to agriculture and horticulture and are available at two levels of ability.  The qualifications are accredited by Ofqual onto the national Qualifications and Credit Framework. They aim to provide successful candidates with a good general knowledge of relevant health and safety issues.   The VQs should be supplemented with additional technical training for more specific operations eg for skills such as fork lift truck, chainsaw or ATV driving as necessary.

VQs will enable workers at all levels to:

  • understand how incidents and ill health can affect both people and businesses;
  • be aware of the main causes of incidents and ill health in the industry and how to prevent them;
  • know the key elements of the law and where to get information and advice.

For the self-employed or managers, VQs will also help them:

  • understand how to do risk assessments and tell workers of the outcomes;
  • be aware of standards of training and competence for people in the industry;
  • select contractors and work equipment to meet health and safety requirements;
  • understand how health and safety fits in with the principles of good management.
Which VQ is right for me?
Qualification Level Guided learning hours Title Which VQ
2 23 Level 2 Award in Safe Working  in Agriculture and Production Horticulture Anyone working in the sector or about to join it
3 40 Level 3 Award in Controlling Risks to Health and Safety in Agriculture and Production Horticulture. Supervisors, skilled employees, unit managers, union or worker safety representatives and farmers/growers who are self-employed or employing only family members

For information on VQs see or

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