This article discusses general challenges among NEBOSH students, as well as the key challenges that exist in the three units of the NEBOSH IGC certificate. GC II element analysis offers tutors effective strategies to adopt when delivering training sessions.
NEBOSH’s International General Certificate (IGC) is a dignified, job fetching and prestigious HSE certification. It is also one of the most challenging certifications for students, as it assesses various aspects of knowledge including proficiency understanding and writing in English, conceptual understanding of HSE ideas, practical implementation of HSE logistics in the workplace, report writing skills, time management, and the ability to memorise and retrieve information.
The following information details the strategic approaches and general challenges faced by NEBOSH aspirants, including a lack of HSE knowledge, English language abilities, slow writing speed, difficulty remembering, and a lack of understanding about question keywords.
Lack of HSE knowledge
Improve HSE knowledge by: involving students in group discussions, holding question and answer sessions, showing videos, asking scenario based questions, and asking more questions to experienced students in the class while the others listen.
Lack of English knowledge
To handle the English Language issue, we can get extra practice by asking the students to write Simplified Technical English (STE) in which they have to focus on key words with simple English words, minimum tense usage, active voice and conjunction words. As an example, moral duty can be written as: ‘Employer get profit from workplace. They give income for employees also it is the duty of the employer to give safe work condition.’ Initially in a mock test we can ask them to implement these techniques and their confidence level can be increased.
Slow writing speed
• Strictly maintaining timings in the mock tests
• Purposefully giving writing exercise and asking students to take notes
• Identifying the students who are taking notes slowly during sessions and asking them to improve their speed
• Making them aware of the strategic amount of time to spend on each question in the exam
• Question bank and model question discussion after completing a specific topic
• Revision question discussion at end of each sub topic, at the end of the topic or before starting new chapters
• Face to face questions to be raised often to make the students think about the previous chapters
• Swing questions i.e. after entering into GCII, whenever the concepts coincide with GCI concepts, raise questions and making the aspirants aware of how GCI and GCII concepts are interrelated in some sections
Lack of understanding about question keywords
• Explaining the question’s key words i.e. outline, identify, as well as the mode of writing required
• Mock tests to be assessed and feedback to be given in the paper
• Refer students to the exam skills section of the text book
• Mock test to be conducted and the feedback to be given as grading system: G1 (good) G2 (average) G3 (poor)
• Feedback tracker can be maintained in an excel sheet or manually to track the group’s performance
• After a mock test, questions should be discussed and a general survey taken among the students about their performance
• Consistent high grade performers to be appreciated in front of the other students and consistent low grade performers to be called separately and improvements to be shared
• Impel the students to do their home study properly by giving surprise tests
• Seating layout to be created and instruction given to the students not to change their seats often, so that tutors can monitor their activities in the class at least table wise
• Instructions to be given to keep the mobile phone in vibration mode, as some of the students have to respond to their company call
• One common day and one hour’s lunch break can be decided to pay the pending fees, so that the student’s random distribution for paying the fees can be avoided
• A strict line against tardiness and absenteeism, with attendance taken twice daily and any tardiness or absenteeism investigated
• As some aspirants may be in high frustrations due to personal issues, so the tutor should be very careful in selecting the stress busting methods in between the sessions
Tutoring techniques: GCI
The key challenges in GCI are: a lack of understanding about the question’s format, an inability to remember the topic focus, and being prone to confusion. Tutors can defeat these challenges through the following approaches.
Page by page approach
Each student has to open their book and along with the slides they should note the possible questions and other related points in the book as well in their class notebook. This approach should be maintained for each chapter. NEBOSH book terms should be properly explained to the aspirants.
To remember topic focus and other important sections, name mnemonics can be launched as below.
Barriers to good standards of health and safety – BCC:
• B ehavioural issues
• C omplexity
• C onflicting demands
General health and safety management arrangements – ACID:
• A ccident and near miss reporting
• C onsultation with workers on health and safety matters
• I dentifying and supplying health and safety information, instruction and training
• D eveloping safe system of work and permit to work
In this type of mnemonic, the information to be remembered is connected to something already known. Element 3 employer and worker responsibilities, for example, can be compared with Element 1 ILOs articles related to the worker and employer. Likewise, Element 2 review of safety policy can be compared with Element 4 review of risk assessment.
A concept map is a diagram that depicts suggested relationships between concepts, as shown in the above chart.
Controlling risks: GCII
The key challenges that tutors will face in GCII are: student difficulties comprehending scenario based questions; complications indexing contents while studying, as the chapters are vast in nature; and deficiencies in cataloguing twisted and similar category questions. As previously, these challenges can be effectively handled using the following strategies.
On board method
The tutor can write on the board and highlight for students the types of questions that are both scenario based and twisting in nature.
Mostly in GCII the contents flow in the format of hazard, then risk assessment, then control measures. The tutor can write on the class board and ask students to prepare a matrix, as shown in the table below.
Smart table technique
Smart tables can be created for the iterative nature of contents in the following element sub topics: Element 4 Machinery Hazards and Protection – Specific Examples, Element 7 Specific Substance Hazardous to Health, Element 8 Ionising and Non Ionising Radiation.
Element wise analysis
The following element wise strategies can be adopted by the NEBOSH tutor to effectively deliver training sessions that will proportionally increase the probability of students passing.
As many NEBOSH students come from a construction background this unit can be handled as a group Interactive session, sharing live examples and scenarios from projects such as the Metrorail, high rise building construction, and sharing general safety commitments and techniques followed by leading companies. Topics such as scaffolding, work at height and excavation can be well supported with videos. Tabular mode can be implemented to bring a good hold on the concept flow. To maintain the student’s confidence in this unit, the tutor should adopt channeling techniques. i.e. quickly involve students in the content and identify, connect, channel and allow active participation of students from the construction industry. This is also the right time to initiate a GCIII observation sheet writing and hazard identification in correlation with the discussion.
Videos on safe stacking and material handling in the warehouse while using a fork lift can be displayed. Videos should be played before starting the unit, as many new students will be unaware of the operation of the fork lift. Content arrangement can be written on the board as:
• Movement and non movement related hazard
• Fork lift overturn, pre use check, reversing, parking
• Risk assessment
Work related Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD) risk factors to be explained with humour oriented videos. Load handling equipment concepts to be explained with lifting accessories and inspection videos. Compiled lifting accident videos to be displayed along with detailed investigation of a lifting accident and videos can also be played. More scenarios to be explained and the tutor has to ensure that everyone in class has the ideas of differentiating MSD risk factors, assessing and minimising manual handling risk.
Demands highly detailed videos, technical discussions and images depicting machine accidents. Although they may be shocking, the snap shots of machine hazards will trigger students’ involvement in this topic. The impact of this unit can be effectively delivered to the students by showing a video of an accident without guarding, followed by a film about effective guarding.
The tutor must be well prepared to handle this topic, asking questions in orientation with running through slides. While many students may be competent and experienced in the electrical domain, the tutor has to be organised to convey the proper information to those less competent. To deliver this topic effectively, tutors must demonstrate questioning skills, subject knowledge, good sense of time, and the ability to clearly explain, as well as to control aggression levels among students.
Fire risk assessment and evacuation of the workplace can be explained with an emergency plan diagram. It is important to discuss fire mock drills and fire extinguishers. As students from the oil and gas industry often attend NEBOSH sessions, during the discussions it is good to ask their industrial practice in fire prevention, alarm, fire extinguishing and evacuation. Fuel can be added to this discussion by talking about some well known fire accidents that have occurred in the past and the control methods adopted.
Students struggle most at the start of training sessions when terminology and concepts are still very new to them. To avoid this issue it is better to take this unit on the second day of the GCII session, immediately instructing the students to take up a mock test on a specific sub topic in the next day’s session. By combining hazardous substance monitoring videos with using smart tables, the advanced delivery of this unit in day two will improve the confidence levels of the students.
In this unit the tutor has to ask students to note down points sequentially to correspond with slides. This unit can be effectively handled using animated videos related to decibels, hearing mechanisms and vibration issues, radiation smart table and office worker behaviour videos due to stress.
International safety application: GCIII
The main challenges when teaching GCIII are: students’ lack of report writing skills; attempted malpractice/short cuts; a lack of understanding of the method of writing observation; and an improper grasp of students’ attention while explaining the report writing method.
The level of students’ HSE knowledge maturity and written communication is highly important when deciding the technique for this subject. GCIII can be taken on the fifth day of GCI so that the tutor can track students’ progress in the remaining five days.
The GCIII session should be framed with the following sequences, named as PIPE:
1. P re Preparatory Phase (HAZID Base) Explanation to be given in depth while taking GCI session Element 4: carrying out a risk assessment section. Live scenario to be explained as per GCIII observation sheet under hazard identification method – inspections and the ideas of identification of effective control measures to be detailed when discussing Step 3: evaluating the risk and adequacy of current controls, which can be reinforced while talking about the general hierarchy of control.
2. I nitiation phase: Make the aspirants aware about the malpractice issues. Strict instructions to be given to the aspirants not to follow any shortcut methods. Logics and effectiveness of Relay Parallel Tracking (RPT) can be explained to the students.
3. P ropagation phase: Report writing procedures can be explained with GCIII presentation, GCIII book and by using a hard copy of the NEBOSH template. It is best to ask students to bring the template hard copy while taking this session. The mark breakdown for each section to be detailed.
4. E xecution phase: Launch the quadrant and driven method to elaborate report writing methodology in brief.
Quadrant and driven method
The strategy for explaining GCIII report writing can be decided based on the four quadrants of the learning group, along with applying the workshop driven or document driven method.
If the group is composed of more experienced personnel with poor written communication, which can be assessed by their mock tests as well as question and answer during sessions, then choose the document driven method. This method will improve their report writing as per the standard. If the group is composed of inexperienced students with good written communication, then the workshop driven method can be applied. This method will improve the students’ hazard identification skills. Depending on the quadrant, either the single driven or hybrid driven method can be applied.
Workshop driven method
In the workshop driven method, sample workplaces will be projected on the board and well balanced teams should be formed, combining experienced and new students. Teams will be asked to write their observations on the NEBOSH template, and peer and cross peer assessments will be conducted. The tutor has to ensure that one group can diplomatically comment on another groups observation sheet. The group with the highest score has to say how they prepared the observation sheet. This will create awareness in the students as to how the observation sheet should be prepared and how assessment can be done for the GCIII report.
Document driven method
In the document driven method one major hazard will be selected and the meticulous method of report writing, as per updated NEBOSH GCIII logics, must be exhibited right from the observation sheet to the recommendations column. Students should receive instructions and thorough supervision, along with random checks to ensure that notes have been taken with proper understanding.
Students progress through GCIII will be tracked and the optimum completion percentage should be maintained in the below metrics:
• Topic confirmation (90%)
• Observation review – minimum five to 10 hazards with one major hazard compulsory (75%)
• Main findings to be detailed for one major hazard (45%)
A student who has completed the basic part can relay to others sections of the report and the parallel tracking will be done for him as well as for other students. During the review the tutor has to ask questions to ensure whether the notes have been taken properly and the deviation from the NEBOSH standard must be explained for the individual base report.
The students should be instructed that they can change their topic later by mailing the proper reason, but it should be emphasised that only after confirmation from the tutor can they proceed with that new topic. This will be helpful for the tutor to uncover any potential malpractice attempts.
Appreciation should be given to the student who completes each stage of the report, for the influential, proactive, optimistic and envious wave it will impose on other students. Equally, the students who don’t complete the GCIII basics are to be encouraged, diplomatically, to take a professional approach.
When sending GCIII documents, the tutor review date (three days prior to the final date of submission) must be specified and strictly followed, which will give at least a few students the urgency to prepare the report effectively.
It is important to motivate students to achieve their qualifications. If the students can see your passion for the subject and your commitment to helping each of them to pass, this will light a fire within them to try their absolute hardest.
By learning about individual psychology for learning habits, tutors can develop tailor made frameworks for their students.
Published: 02nd Mar 2016 in Health and Safety Middle East