HSfB Blog


There is a certain degree of stigma attached to NEBOSH exams, which is certainly not helped by the notoriously low pass rates. It cannot be denied that they are very demanding, but would the qualifications be worth obtaining if assessment were via a simple multiple-choice exam? Whatever the merits of other health & safety qualifications, it cannot be argued that NEBOSH awards are still the number one choice of most prospective employers.

Despite what some say, it is not possible to learn the course material parrot fashion for the final exam. However, with hard work and an understanding of key concepts and basic principles, there is no need for any exam paper to be the cause of nightmares. Everyone studies in their own way, but the following are some general guidelines that just may make the difference between a referral and a pass with flying colours.


Don't rush into the exam room with minutes to spare. Make sure you have had a good nights rest, eaten well and don't have a hangover.



The old scouts motto. Don't turn up with one dodgy biro. It WILL run out before you get your name on the paper.



Don't grab a seat too close to the heaters, halfway through the exam you will wish you had picked somewhere cooler. Similarly seats by the window can be too hot or cause glare in the summer, too cold in the winter and cause distractions. Get a comfortable table with good lighting.

Guardian Angel

Ever wondered how Health and Safety for Beginners started?  If you have, here's the story from our founder John Johnston (i.e. me)...

Accidents Don't Need to Happen

After suffering a back injury at work in 2002, my life changed in an instant and would never be the same.

The accident itself was not a spectacular event by any means, there was no machinery involved, no explosions, no falls from a great height, no blood and guts, just a manual handling task I had done a few times before.  All I had to do was lift a heavy steel beam from the floor up a few inches and onto a wooden pallet.  A dual lift with a colleague.  We both managed the task and carried on with our Friday.  The next day, Saturday, I felt crippled and couldn't get out of bed because of the unbearable pain.  Not so good when my daughter was in her cot crying for food and a nappy change!

It turns out I had slipped two discs causing me to spend the next 2 ½ years virtually housebound living on Incapacity Benefit.

Naturally this placed incredible strain on home life for my wife and young daughter (two years old at the time), not only in monetary terms, but simple things like going shopping, visiting friends and family, pulling up socks, or even lifting a full kettle. All the things many people take for granted. The hardest part of these years was not being able to lift, carry or play easily with my young daughter who had no concept of why her mum could and I couldn't. Kids are amazing creatures though; she was OK with the limited physical activities we could do together.

In a year that has seen the 35th birthday of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act (HSWA) and the 30th anniversary of NEBOSH, health and safety in the workplace still remains a highly sensitive issue but one that is crucial to the wellbeing of Britain's workforce.

The HSWA has remained the framework for all health and safety legislation and has also managed to adapt to change since its implementation in 1974. In a society which has moved from a largely manufacturing-based industry to a service driven economy and with a more transient and diverse workforce, it remains crucial that employers and health and safety professionals also adapt to changes in working environments and employment patterns.

People who are risk aware (like us H&S types) are probably quite careful at home too.

A common perception seems to be that "it's common sense" that if I don't take any safety measures at home when I'm doing something, I shouldn't expect my employer to insist on me taking precautions, besides I hate those earplugs, can't hear the radio with them in.

I used to get a giggle from my kids when they saw me wearing safety glasses when I painted a ceiling, paint in the eyes is such a pain.

I think the risks are much greater at work not because the tasks are any different, but because the number of times per day those tasks are performed is much greater, and I'm often close to other people doing things that present a hazard to me, or who distract me.

You often see signs on construction site gates specifying the ever growing list of PPE that must be worn by everyone while they are on site, and having been a technical courier (the person who turns up to fix the office photocopier / printer / computer) I can tell you first hand that they are serious about this.

I dared to walk through the gates of a building site in Glasgow one day, to deliver a new photocopier part to the offices just inside the gate when I was accosted by a brusque foreman type who insisted that I should turn back because I didn't have a hard hat on, or hi viz, or even toe tectors.... "They don't go well with the suit, and I'm just going there to fix the office photocopier" I explained in my normal jovial manner, pointing to the portacabins about three metres away.

"Doesn't matter, it's a blanket policy" I was informed by the very efficient chap.

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