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July 2013

Examiners Report
NEBOSH International
Diploma in
Occupational Health
and Safety (Unit IC)

Examiners Report


Unit IC: International workplace
and work equipment safety

JULY 2013


Introduction 2

General comments 3

Comments on individual questions 4

2013 NEBOSH, Dominus Way, Meridian Business Park, Leicester LE19 1QW
tel: 0116 263 4700 fax: 0116 282 4000 email: website:

The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health is a registered charity, number 1010444


NEBOSH (The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health) was formed in 1979 as
an independent examining board and awarding body with charitable status. We offer a comprehensive
range of globally-recognised, vocationally-related qualifications designed to meet the health, safety,
environmental and risk management needs of all places of work in both the private and public sectors.
Courses leading to NEBOSH qualifications attract around 35,000 candidates annually and are offered
by over 500 course providers, with exams taken in over 100 countries around the world. Our
qualifications are recognised by the relevant professional membership bodies including the Institution
of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and the International Institute of Risk and Safety
Management (IIRSM).

NEBOSH is an awarding body to be recognised and regulated by the Scottish Qualifications Authority

Where appropriate, NEBOSH follows the latest version of the GCSE, GCE, Principal Learning and
Project Code of Practice published by the regulatory authorities in relation to examination setting and
marking. While not obliged to adhere to this code, NEBOSH regards it as best practice to do so.

Candidates scripts are marked by a team of Examiners appointed by NEBOSH on the basis of their
qualifications and experience. The standard of the qualification is determined by NEBOSH, which is
overseen by the NEBOSH Council comprising nominees from, amongst others, the Health and Safety
Executive (HSE), the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and
the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). Representatives of course providers, from
both the public and private sectors, are elected to the NEBOSH Council.

This report on the examination provides information on the performance of candidates which it is
hoped will be useful to candidates and tutors in preparation for future examinations. It is intended to
be constructive and informative and to promote better understanding of the syllabus content and the
application of assessment criteria.


Any enquiries about this report publication should be addressed to:

Dominus Way
Meridian Business Park
LE19 1QW

tel: 0116 263 4700
fax: 0116 282 4000

General Comments

Many candidates are well prepared for this unit assessment and provide comprehensive and relevant
answers in response to the demands of the question paper. This includes the ability to demonstrate
understanding of knowledge by applying it to workplace situations. There are always some
candidates, however, who appear to be unprepared for the unit assessment and who show both a lack
of knowledge of the syllabus content and a lack of understanding of how key concepts should be
applied to workplace situations.

In order to meet the pass standard for this assessment, acquisition of knowledge and understanding
across the syllabus are prerequisites. However, candidates need to demonstrate their knowledge and
understanding in answering the questions set. Referral of candidates in this unit is invariably because
they are unable to write a full, well-informed answer to the question asked.

Some candidates find it difficult to relate their learning to the questions and as a result offer responses
reliant on recalled knowledge and conjecture and fail to demonstrate any degree of understanding.
Candidates should prepare themselves for this vocational examination by ensuring their
understanding, not rote-learning pre-prepared answers.

Candidates should note that Examiners Reports are not written to provide sample answers but to
give examples of what Examiners were expecting and more specifically to highlight areas of under

Common pitfalls

It is recognised that many candidates are well prepared for their assessments. However, recurrent
issues, as outlined below, continue to prevent some candidates reaching their full potential in the

Many candidates fail to apply the basic principles of examination technique and for some
candidates this means the difference between a pass and a referral.

In some instances, candidates do not attempt all the required questions or are failing to provide
complete answers. Candidates are advised to always attempt an answer to a compulsory
question, even when the mind goes blank. Applying basic health and safety management
principles can generate credit worthy points.

Some candidates fail to answer the question set and instead provide information that may be
relevant to the topic but is irrelevant to the question and cannot therefore be awarded marks.

Many candidates fail to apply the command words (also known as action verbs, eg describe,
outline, etc). Command words are the instructions that guide the candidate on the depth of answer
required. If, for instance, a question asks the candidate to describe something, then few marks
will be awarded to an answer that is an outline. Similarly the command word identify requires
more information than a list.

Some candidates fail to separate their answers into the different sub-sections of the questions.
These candidates could gain marks for the different sections if they clearly indicated which part of
the question they were answering (by using the numbering from the question in their answer, for
example). Structuring their answers to address the different parts of the question can also help in
logically drawing out the points to be made in response.

Candidates need to plan their time effectively. Some candidates fail to make good use of their
time and give excessive detail in some answers leaving insufficient time to address all of the

Candidates should also be aware that Examiners cannot award marks if handwriting is illegible.

The International Diploma in Health and Safety is taught and examined in English. Candidates are
therefore expected to have a good command of both written and spoken English including
technical and scientific vocabulary. The recommended standard expected of candidates is
equivalent to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) level 7 (very good user).
It is evident from a number of scripts that there are candidates attempting the examination without
the necessary English language skills. More information on the IELTS standards can be found at
UNIT IC International workplace and work equipment safety

Question 1 Outline the arrangements in a motor fleet policy that will minimise the risk to
a multi-site organisation where workers drive vehicles between sites. (10)

This question related to Element IC10 of the syllabus and assessed candidates
knowledge of learning outcome IC10.2: Outline the factors associated with driving at
work that increase the risk of an incident and the control measures to reduce work-
related driving risks.

This question assessed a new aspect of the 2011 syllabus, that of driving at work.
Many candidates failed to appreciate that this topic now sits within Unit IC.
Consequently, a significant number of candidates attempted to answer this question
as if it was a workplace transport issue. Answers concerning one-way systems, safety
signs, road markings etc did not gain any marks.

Examiners were looking for answers that outlined arrangements for ensuring driver
competence, medical screening, daily checks by drivers and selection of vehicles etc.
Most candidates appreciated that outline means giving an answer that is more than
just a series of bullet points.

Question 2 (a) Give the meaning of the term confined space. (2)

(b) Outline factors that should be considered in relation to emergency
rescue arrangements for confined space work. (8)

This question related to Element IC1 of the syllabus and assessed candidates
knowledge of learning outcome IC1.3: Explain the assessment of risk and safe
working practices associated with work in confined spaces.

In the first part of this question, candidates needed to make some reference to the
hazards posed by the confined space eg asphyxiation and it was well answered by
most candidates.

Part (b) was misread by many candidates. This may be due to the fact that these
candidates attempted to answer a similar but different question that has been set
previously. Answers giving general precautions about confined space entry were not
required. The question specifically asked for the emergency rescue arrangements.
Examiners were looking for an understanding that the emergency response was
dependent upon the nature of the risk that the rescuers might be facing.

There were limited marks for mentioning the physical pieces of equipment that might
be needed for rescues such as life lines, breathing apparatus etc.

Better answers included having access to medical help, having a system for
contacting the emergency services and having a plan for the emergency evacuation of
the rescue staff themselves.

Section A all questions compulsory


Question 3 (a) In relation to automatic fire detection and alarm systems, outline
the basic principle AND operation of:

(i) heat detectors; (4)

(ii) smoke detectors. (4)

(b) Identify the circumstances in which EACH type of detector
would be inappropriate. (2)

This question related to Element IC3 of the syllabus and assessed candidates
knowledge of learning outcome IC3.2: Explain the processes involved in the
identification of hazards and the assessment of risk from fire.

Most candidates answered this question well. The specific part of the syllabus being
assessed was principal components of alarm systems, detection and signalling. The
expectation was that candidates could identify pre-set and rate of rise heat detectors
and optical and ionising smoke detectors.

For part (b) many candidates failed to identify the circumstances when it would be
inappropriate to use each type of detector. The command word of identify gave the
level of detail required.

Question 4 (a) Outline factors that might cause an agricultural tractor to
overturn. (6)

(b) Outline measures that may be necessary to minimise the risk of a
tractor overturning. (4)

This question related to Element IC7 of the syllabus and assessed candidates
knowledge of learning outcome IC7.1: Describe the main hazards and control
measures associated with commonly encountered mobile work equipment.

Agricultural tractors are specifically included on the syllabus, as are the hazards of
overturning and roll-over. Generally, this question was well answered by most
candidates. However, it is still necessary to remind candidates that they need to do
more than just list training, supervision and competence in order to gain the marks
where outline is the command word.

Question 5 The 1963 International Labour Organisations Convention 119 (C119)
concerns the Guarding of Machinery. Part 1 considers general provisions;
Part 2 concerns the sale, hire, transfer and exhibition of machinery and
Part 3 the use of machinery.

(a) Outline categories of machinery covered by Part 1 of the
convention. (3)

(b) Give examples of transmission machinery (exposed moving
parts) specified in Part 2. (2)

(c) Outline requirements for the use of machinery as specified in Part
3. (5)

This question related to Element IC6 of the syllabus and assessed candidates
knowledge of learning outcome IC6.1: Describe the principles of safety integration
and the considerations required in a general workplace machinery risk assessment.

The syllabus specifically refers to the Guarding of Machinery Convention C119 but
few candidates understood the requirements of this convention.

The important point that many candidates did not remember was that like all ILO
Conventions, C119 places duties on the Competent Authority.

In part (b), candidates had to name examples of the different types of exposed parts
such as flywheels, gearing, cams, pulleys, belts, chains, pinions, etc.

Article 6 in Part III, requires national laws to prohibit the use of dangerous parts of
machinery without appropriate guards. As an international qualification, the machinery
safety standard EN ISO 12100 is also highly relevant.

Question 6 Outline what should be considered when preparing a scheme for the
systematic examination, testing and maintenance of portable electrical
appliances. (10)

This question related to Element IC8 of the syllabus and assessed candidates
knowledge of learning outcome IC8.5: Outline the main hazards, risks and controls
associated with the use of portable electrical equipment.

Portable electrical equipment is a separate learning outcome on the current syllabus.
Many candidates were able to provide an outline of the need for an inventory of
equipment, asset registers giving unique reference numbers, the availability of
competent testers and labelling of equipment to indicate its test status.

More in-depth answers referred to the frequency of testing being dependent upon the
working environment, the frequency of use of the appliance and its age.

There were indications of rote learning in the answers given to this question. The
question concerned portable appliance testing but many candidates provided answers
to a question concerning fixed electrical installations. References to high voltage
equipment, distribution boards were not relevant to the answer.

Candidates and accredited course providers should note that the syllabus now
includes the electrical risks from important portable appliances such as generators
and arc/MIG/TIG welders.

Question 7 (a) Describe the effects of a fire in a workplace on the following
structural materials:

(i) steel; (4)

(ii) concrete; (4)

(iii) wood. (4)

(b) Outline the precautions that could be taken to prevent failure of
these materials in the event of fire. (8)

This question related to Element IC2 of the syllabus and assessed candidates
knowledge of learning outcome IC2.1: Outline the properties of flammable and
explosive materials and the mechanisms by which they ignite.

Section B three from five questions to be attempted

This was a very popular question that was well answered by the majority of
candidates. A minority of candidates attempted to provide a learned answer to a
slightly different but previously asked question.

Question 8 An external lift on a construction site has an interlocked guard to prevent
the lift operating when the gate is open. With reference to the diagram:

(a) identify the two types of switch shown (Switch A AND Switch B); (2)

(b) identify the functional components associated with BOTH
switches; (4)

(c) outline the normal sequence of operation for the electrically-
operated, cam-activated switch assembly when the gate opens
and closes; (6)

(d) outline ways in which electrically-operated, cam-activated
switches may fail to operate as intended. (8)

Gate closed Gate open
Switch A Switch B Switch A Switch B

This question related to Element IC6 of the syllabus and assessed candidates
knowledge of learning outcome IC6.3: Describe protective devices found on general
workplace machinery.

This was a very unpopular question but clearly within the syllabus.

This question required candidates to demonstrate a correct understanding of the
technical items they were referring to, in this case an interlocked guard.

Question 9 An organisation is proposing to build a store room for stocks of flammable

Outline factors to consider in the design, construction and use of the store
room. (20)

This question related to Element IC4 of the syllabus and assessed candidates
knowledge of learning outcome IC4.2: Outline the main principles of the safe storage,
handling and transport of dangerous substances.

This was a very popular question. Candidates who structured their answers around
the aspects of design, construction and use gained the highest marks.

Question 10 During excavation there is a risk of striking underground cables.

Outline precautions that minimise the risk of striking underground electrical
cables. (20)

This question related to Element IC9 of the syllabus and assessed candidates
knowledge of learning outcome IC9.5: Explain the hazards associated with excavation
work and the necessary precautions and safe working practices.

This was a popular question with most candidates gaining good marks for it. Better
answers were broken into sections where the work was first planned, then cables were
located and then the digging took place. Most candidates referred to detection
devices. The better answers specified Cable Avoidance Tools and hum detectors. The
better marks were awarded for descriptions of safe digging practice and the avoidance
of mechanical excavation in close proximity to the cables, in favour of hand digging
with correctly selected tools and with training given where required. Some of the
candidates concentrated on general excavation methods with emphasis on the
general hazards, such as water ingress and collapse of side walls, rather than the
striking of cables that was the point of the question.

Question 11 Failure of pressure systems can result in accidents.

(a) Identify examples of pressure systems AND gi ve a workplace
example in EACH case. (5)

(b) Outline a typical written scheme of examination for pressure
systems. (5)

(c) Outline other control measures that could reduce the risk of
pressure system failures. (10)

This question related to Element IC11 of the syllabus and assessed candidates
knowledge of learning outcome IC11.3: Outline the key features and safety
requirements for process pressure systems.

Very few candidates attempted this question. Of those who did only one or two gained
good marks. Most answered part (a) well and were able to identify the component
parts of a pressure system and generally gave good examples. Part (b) was less well
answered although most candidates did mention the need for competent persons to
carry out the examinations and most did refer to protective devices such as pressure
relief valves. Most candidates missed out on the need to prepare the equipment and
its environment beforehand.

Part (c) was the area where most candidates failed to gain marks by concentrating
just on various safety devices rather than the provision of safe systems of work, safe
equipment in general and the need for condition monitoring and maintenance by
competent persons who know the systems and how they work.

The National Examination
Board in Occupational
Safety and Health
Dominus Way
Meridian Business Park
Leicester LE19 1QW
telephone +44 (0)116 2634700
fax +44 (0)116 2824000

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