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NEBOSH Diplomas, General Certificate and Awards

Written by: SHP Online - Jamie Hailstone
Published on: 29 Aug 2019

NEBOSH (National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health) is a charitable organisation, which offers a comprehensive range of globally-recognised qualifications designed to meet the health, safety and environmental management needs of all places of work. What does NEBOSH stand for?

NEBOSH (The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health) was formed in 1979 as an awarding body with charitable status.

It offers a comprehensive range of globally-recognised qualifications designed to meet the health, safety and environmental management needs of all places of work.

Courses leading to NEBOSH qualifications attract around 50,000 candidates annually and are offered by over 620 course providers, with exams taken in over 120 countries around the world.

In 2014, it was awarded Britain’s highest accolade for trade success, the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, for our “outstanding achievement” in International Trade.

NEBOSH qualifications are recognised by the relevant professional membership bodies including the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), International Institute of Risk & Safety Management (IIRSM) and Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA).

In addition, NEBOSH examinations and assessments are set by its professionally qualified staff assisted by external examiners; most of whom are Chartered Safety and Health Practitioners or Chartered Environmentalists operating within industry, the public sector or in enforcement.

In addition, NEBOSH is also an ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 certified organisation.

NEBOSH exams

NEBOSH qualifications

NEBOSH offers three categories of qualifications – Award, Certificate and Diploma – which are taken by more than 35,000 people every year.

In addition, it also now offers a range of Masters degrees, through a partnership with the University of Hull.


NEBOSH’s Award-level qualifications provide a basic understanding of health and safety and environmental principles and practice and provide a perfect introduction to other NEBOSH qualifications.

As well as in English, the NEBOSH Health and Safety at Work Qualification can be taken in five other languages, French, Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese and Russian.

NEBOSH Certificate

NEBOSH’s Certificate-level qualifications give a good foundation in health and safety for managers, supervisors and staff with health and safety among their day to day responsibilities.

These qualifications are widely taken as a first step towards a career in health and safety and are accepted by IOSH – the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health – in meeting the academic requirements for Technical Membership of IOSH (Tech IOSH).

For those seeking a long-term career in occupational health and safety, Certificate level qualifications offer a progression route towards NEBOSH professional level Diplomas.

11 NEBOSH Certificate-level qualifications are currently available

NEBOSH Diploma

NEBOSH Diplomas are globally recognised qualifications aimed at professional health and safety advisors and environmental practitioners.
Previous experience of health and safety is strongly recommended and entry requirements may be set by course providers.

Completion of a NEBOSH Diploma provides an excellent foundation for further study.

NEBOSH Masters

The University of Hull in partnership with NEBOSH are offering Masters Degrees by distance learning in Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental Management subjects.

Six different Masters are available:

  • MSc in Occupational Health and Safety Management;
  • MSc in Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental Management;
  • MSc in Environmental Management;
  • MRes in Occupational Health and Safety Management;
  • MRes in Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental Management;
  • MRes in Environmental Management.

These qualifications are open to holders of a NEBOSH Diploma who wish to further their learning in Health and Safety and/or Environmental Management. They have been designed with an emphasis on flexibility for those people in full time work looking to complement their previous NEBOSH Diploma studies.

Delivered through distance learning, these qualifications are ideal for both national and international candidates wishing to gain a Masters level qualification focused on workplace-based research.

Guidance for taking NEBOSH certificate exams 

Jonathan Backhouse explains how to tackle the NEBOSH general certificate, giving tips on how to answer questions as well as useful resources for studying.

Undertaking any exam can be daunting. For example, the NEBOSH General Certificate consists of two, two-hour exams as well as a practical workplace assignment to complete.

The article will draw examples from the NEBOSH General certificate, however the principles covered will be beneficial for all NEBOSH certificate level exams, and for many other exams.

This article will:

  1. Identify useful documents to be used when preparing for your examinations.
  2. Give an example of studying incorrect/out of date information.
  3. Outline common myths concerning NEBOSH exams.
  4. Explain the meaning of the command words used in certificate exams.
  5. Describe with a practical example what is required for each command word.​​​
  1. Supporting documentation

The internet includes countless NEBOSH resources – some good, some bad and some quite ugly! The best staring place will be the NEBOSH website.

Downloading the syllabus will give you an amazing insight into what is needed – likewise understanding the command words will help you with your exam preparation. The syllabus also includes links for reference material, which will be beneficial for the trainer and student.

  • An example of studying incorrect/out of date information.

For example, hierarchy of control. This was once learned as ERIC PD (Eliminate, Reduce, Isolate, Control, PPE and Discipline), well Eric left the building many years ago!

The syllabus requires candidates to apply the general hierarchy of control with reference to ISO 45001:

  1. eliminate the hazard;
  2. substitute with less hazardous materials, processes, operations or equipment;
  3. use engineering controls;
  4. use administrative controls; and
  5. provide and ensure use of adequate personal protective equipment.

If you learn ‘ERIC PD’ and a question asks you to:

  • identify examples of the general hierarchy of control; or
  • outline ways the general hierarchy of control can be applied to a specific situation

then it is unlikely that you will gain the maximum marks available. Remember PPE is the last resort not Discipline!

  • Common myths concerning NEBOSH exams

There are many myths about NEBOSH. The most common are:

  • You have to learn NEBOSH speak.
  • The course is too hard.

First there is no such thing as NEBOSH speak; you will have to learn terms and phrases that you may not be familiar with, like ‘hierarchy of control’.

For the certificate exams (not just NEBOSH) you will need to know the difference between Identify, Outline, Describe, Explain and Give.

Practical example: NEBOSH style question

The following question shows a practical example of each of the command words

  1. Identify types (or kinds) of fruit. (2)
  2. Give an example of a fruit that would not be used in a fruit salad. (1)
  3. Outline steps to make a fruit salad. (2)
  4. Describe a banana. (2)
  5. Explain the benefits of eating five fruit and/or vegetables per day. (1)

The following shows a model answer to the question:

Identify types (or kinds) of fruit. (2)

  • Apple
  • Pear
  • Kiwi
  • Orange

Give an example of a fruit that would not be used in a fruit salad. (1)

  • Tomato

Outline steps to make a fruit salad. (2)

  • Wash fruit that does not need to be peeled
  • Cut the fruit into small pieces
  • Place the pieces into a large bowl

Describe a banana. (2)

  • The bottom end is narrowed, the top has a thick stem, attaching the fruit to the stalk
  • Ranges from about 10 – 20 cm in length and is curved/crescent in shape.
  • The colour changes from green (unripe), to yellow (ripe), to black (over ripe)
  • Has a thick skin that needs to be removed before eating

Explain the benefits of eating five fruit and/or vegetables per day. (1)

  • Provides a range of vitamins and minerals.
  • Provides fibre within a diet.

N.B. You only need to have the number of answers per mark. For example, identify types of fruit offers 2 marks, so apple and orange would suffice. If you put extra answers that are similar (e.g. clementine, tangerine, satsuma) they may not get the full two marks.

Practice makes perfect

On your course you will, hopefully, get a chance to practice many exam questions. An important lesson is to find out how long the exam takes you. Make time to sit a whole mock paper and practice in exam conditions.

Whilst your course book and other hand-outs from your trainer will be useful, the most important document you will be using is the syllabus (you can find a mock exam in the back of this document).

If you can answer the learning outcomes, then you will be able to answer the exam questions and using the syllabus will ensure you are learning the correct information.