18 November 2020

The NEBOSH National General Certificate in Health and Safety

The NEBOSH National General Certificate in Health and Safety

Often known as the “NEBOSH Certificate” or “NGC”, the NEBOSH General Certificate is probably the best entry-level qualification that you can study for if you want to find a role in health and safety in the UK – and, indeed, abroad as well, as the qualification is well known and respected internationally.  (There is an international version available that focusses on international rather than UK law).

The NGC is a two-week taught course when taken in one lump, or 10-12 days when studied as day-release.  Online versions are available – but in my experience, face-to-face training for the NGC is much more productive, as many of the topics need some detailed discussion for full understanding. 

The course covers many topics – in the first week everything from health and safety law (including civil law and criminal law) through to such topics as health and safety culture, accident investigation, risk assessment and how companies can measure their health and safety performance are on the syllabus.  How people make mistakes, and perceive safety risks and interact with the workplace are also covered.

The second week focusses more on the technical aspects of the workplace and how they impact on health and safety – everything from welfare facilities to choosing the right work equipment, crane operation, radiation, chemicals and stress and so on are covered. 

In the past the qualification was awarded after two, two-hour exams and a written practical had been undertaken and passed successfully.  From 2020, the assessment has moved to a single exam paper, which is carried out at home over a 24-hour period, as an “open book exam” or OBE.  The practical is now much more risk-assessment based and is again carried out in the student’s own time and submitted some time after the OBE is completed.

Candidates are reporting that the qualification is now “easier” because they can relate the OBE and practical to their workplaces and they have less facts and theory to cram into their heads.  Time will tell but I suspect that the new approach will lead to students finishing the course with a much better, and more practical, approach to health and safety in the workplace – which can only benefit UK industry in the long run.

I would recommend the NGC to anyone who wants a career in health and safety, or just to improve their knowledge of health and safety in general.  In my previous occupations as Health and Safety Managers for a number of large organisations, the NGC is the minimum qualification I would consider necessary for a prospective employee to have before beginning a career in health and safety.  It provides an excellent foundation for further study – eg, the NEBOSH Diploma, and I would suggest it also would form a good starting point for anyone considering the NCRQ diploma as well. 

Sibbalds offer the qualification in a friendly, informal classroom environment with a high level of support from the class tutors.  Feedback from previous cases has been excellent with students saying they would recommend the course, the venue and the training support given.