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Risk assessment skills to play central role in revised NEBOSH general certificate

 Safety qualifications body NEBOSH has revised the format of its core Level 3 offering, the “National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety”, with the aim of aligning it more closely with the “real-life issues” safety professionals are likely to face.

Previously, candidates for the national general certificate would sit two written papers, and undertake a practical workplace inspection to test their applied skills.

Now, there will be just one examination paper and a practical exercise, a general risk assessment that candidates will submit to NEBOSH electronically for marking.

In addition, the syllabus itself has been revised to place greater emphasis on risk assessment and mental health, while subjects on the “periphery” of what candidates needed to know have been removed.

The changes follow consultation with around 3,000 individuals and organisations, including training providers, employers, standards-setting bodies and subject experts.

The process also drew on qualification development panels and events with NEBOSH learning partners around the world.


Thanks to our practical focus on the real, everyday risks that people encounter, our learners will learn how to identify and manage these risks

NEBOSH chief executive Ian Taylor


The NEBOSH international general certificate in occupational health and safety has also been revised.

NEBOSH says that its general certificates are held by around 300,000 people around the world.

The new risk assessments will be “realistic” and proportionate to the level of risk in the candidate’s own organisation, says NEBOSH. “This holistic approach will ensure successful learners return to work and instantly add value to their employers and colleagues,” it says.

Risk assessments should be structured in line with “the HSE’s five-step approach”, which means that candidates should:

  • identify sources of harm in the workplace;
  • identify who might be harmed and how;
  • evaluate risks and decide on appropriate controls;
  • record the risk assessment; and
  • review and update the assessment.

NEBOSH chief executive Ian Taylor (pictured above) said: “Risk management is a key part of the role for anyone with health and safety responsibilities so we’ve made it central to the new-look certificate.

“Thanks to our practical focus on the real, everyday risks that people encounter, our learners will learn how to identify and manage these risks so they provide real value to their employers.”

He added: “Through an extensive consultation process we captured not just what companies want their people to know – but what they need to be able to do.

“We’ve made sure the refreshed qualification truly meets the needs of the hundreds of thousands of organisations and learners it’s designed to serve.”

Tuition for the general certificate is available online, in more traditional classroom environments and in blended learning options.

As a result of this consultation, new content was added on risk assessment and mental health.

“We removed content to allow for deeper learning, as our learners told us they wanted more time to focus on the core information needed to do their jobs more successfully,” a NEBOSH spokesman told Health and Safety at Work.

Amongst the organisations that participated in the development of the revised qualifications, NEBOSH singles out the Football Association (FA) Group, Travis Perkins and Unite the Union in the UK, and Qatar Steel and the Ministry of Education in the United Arab Emirates.

According to Taylor, 87% of UK health and safety vacancies ask for a NEBOSH qualification



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