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January 2014

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

Examiners Report
Unit IA: International management
of health and safety
January 2014



General comments

Comments on individual questions

2014 NEBOSH, Dominus Way, Meridian Business Park, Leicester LE19 1QW
tel: 0116 263 4700

fax: 0116 282 4000



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
0116 263 4700
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 IA International management of health and safety

Section A all questions compulsory

Question 1


In relation to a binding contractual agreement, give the meaning



express terms;



implied terms.



In relation to a new contract, outline the health and safety

information that should be stated in the contract terms.

This question related to Elements A8 and A6 of the syllabus and assessed

candidates knowledge of learning outcomes 8.1 and 6.5: Describe comparative
governmental and socio-legal, regulatory and corporate models and outline the
development of a health and safety management information system, the relevant
duties and the data it should contain.
Part (a) (i) of the question was well answered and most candidates ably gave the
meaning of express terms.
Part (a) (ii) was less well answered overall however there were many candidates that
identified there is often a matter of custom and practice and disputes could be decided in
a court of law.
Part (b) of the question was not well answered by most as many talked about roles and
responsibilities, policies, having policies in place and how to report accidents. Some
identified welfare, information and training, access and egress and consequently picked
up good marks.

Question 2


Outline the concept of the organisation as a system.



Identify suitable risk controls at EACH point within the system

AND give an example in EACH case.


This question related to Element 6 of the syllabus and assessed candidates

knowledge of learning outcomes 6.2: Outline the different types of organisation, their
structure, function and the concept of the organisation as a system.
Candidates generally outlined the correct concept in part (a) of the question as inputs,
processes and outputs although some referred to policy, organisation, planning and
implementation etc. whilst others outlined the contents of a Health and Safety policy.
Many of those who correctly identified the concept of the organisation as a system did
not however provide more than the headings.
If a candidate had incorrectly identified the concept of the organisation as a system in
part (a) of the question they usually gained few or no marks in part (b). Many of those

who had correctly outlined the concept of the organisation as a system failed to provide
adequate detail of the system.
This question was generally answered reasonably, but seldom well. Shortcomings
seemed to be due primarily to a lack of knowledge, aside from the deviations outlined

Question 3

In relation to health and safety, outline the status AND role of:

ratified international conventions;


ratified international recommendations.


This question related to Element 8 of the syllabus and assessed candidates

knowledge of learning outcomes 8.2: Explain the role and limitations of the
International Labour Organisation in a global health and safety setting.
This question overall, was answered reasonably, but not well. Most candidates knew a
little about the role of the ILO and provided a detail on the structure of the ILO and how
conventions came into being, rather than sticking to the subject of the question.
The question revealed a lack of understanding of the ratification process and the
implications for member states once a Convention had been ratified. It also highlighted
that many candidates were confused about the difference between ILO Conventions and
Recommendations and of their role and status.

Question 4

A maintenance worker was asphyxiated when working in an empty fuel

tank. A subsequent investigation found that the worker had been
operating without a permit-to-work.


Outline why a permit-to-work would be considered necessary in

these circumstances.


Outline possible reasons why the permit-to-work procedure was

not followed on this occasion.


This question related to Element 5 of the syllabus and assessed candidates

knowledge of learning outcomes 5.3: Explain the development, main features and
operation of safe systems of work and permit-to-work systems.
Answers to this question were often good with many candidates managing to gain
maximum marks for the question. Most candidates managed to gain at least 2 of the 3
marks available for part (a) of the question by mentioning the high risk aspect of the work,
the judgement that this was a confined space, the result of risk assessment and the
potential legal requirement of some states. Several candidates provided a full page
answer for part (a) of the question which is only worth 3 marks.
In part (b) of the question candidates who failed to receive the marks available often did
so because they outlined what is needed for a successful permit-to-work as opposed to
why it may not be followed.

Question 5

The accident rate of two organisations is different although they have the
same size workforce and produce identical products.
Outline possible reasons for this difference.


This question related to Element 2 of the syllabus and assessed candidates

knowledge of learning outcomes 2.1: Explain the theories of loss causation.
This question gave candidates scope to earn high marks through the range of options
which might account for the differences in accident rates. With the wide range of possible
answers available most candidates were able to earn reasonable marks for this question
and quite a few gained high marks. A common failing was to outline the factors that may
affect accident rates rather than focussing on how the difference in rates could come
Candidates were guilty of using bullet point lists and therefore limiting their ability to
provide an outline to the question as required. As such there were candidates who clearly
had the knowledge but were let down by examination technique.

Question 6

Outline the societal factors that influence health and safety standards.


This question related to Element 1 of the syllabus and assessed candidates

knowledge of learning outcomes 1.2: Outline the societal factors which influence
health and safety standards and priorities.
There were candidates who made no attempt to answer this question and there were
candidates who managed to gain more than two or three marks for the attempt at an
answer. Reasons for the poor marks are varied but seem to centre round the lack of
understanding of the question. Many candidates prefaced their answer with a repeat of
the question; they still managed to miss the societal focus of the question. Others
gave reasons why there are safety standards others gave the influences within an
organisation for a reduction in health and safety standards.
There were plenty of marks available for the societal focus of this question and
candidates could have commented on; economic climate, globalisation, social
responsibility, ill-health, sickness, equality, caring employer, unions and migrant workers
for example.

Section B three from five questions to be attempted

Question 7



Outline the meaning of skill-based, rule-based and knowledgebased behaviour.


With reference to practical examples or actual incidents, explain

how EACH of these types of operating behaviour can cause
human error AND how human error may be prevented.


This question related to Element 7 of the syllabus and assessed candidates

knowledge of learning outcomes 7.1 and 7.3: Outline the psychological and
sociological factors which may give rise to specific patterns of safe and unsafe
behaviour in the working environment; explain the classification of human failure.
There appeared to be some confusion over skill, rule and knowledge based error
classification with some candidates putting answers round the wrong way thinking
knowledge based is low level and skill is high level. There were a number of candidates
that demonstrated that they were unfamiliar with the terms skills, rule and knowledge
based errors in this context and put their own interpretation of the terms as their answer
which gained them little or no marks.
In part (b) several candidates did not identify whether they were talking about skill, rule
or knowledge based behaviour or provided incorrect examples (several focussing on the
same example of a crane and incorrectly describing the error could suggest an issue
with the teaching of the material). There were several very muddled answers, which
again raises question over the way this key part of the syllabus is taught.
This is an important area of the syllabus which is regularly assessed.

Question 8

A forklift truck skidded on an oil spill causing a serious injury to a visitor.


Explain why the accident should be investigated.


Outline the steps to follow in order to investigate the accident.


Identify possible underlying causes of the accident.


This question related to Element 2 of the syllabus and assessed candidates

knowledge of learning outcomes 2.4: Explain loss and near miss investigations; the
requirements, benefits, the procedures, the documentation and the involvement of and
communication with relevant staff and representatives.
This was the most popular question in Section B of the paper. It was also the best
answered. Part (a) of the question was well answered and maximum marks were often
Part (b) of the question was less well answered as many candidates became involved
with the detail of investigations rather than outlining the main steps. Lists of all the things
that would be examined were often provided and some candidates focussed almost
entirely on how to interview witnesses, to the exclusion of most of the other aspects of
an investigation. Consequently candidates were not awarded all of the available marks.

It is important that the candidates are prepared demonstrate a good breadth to their
answers rather than focussing on a small element of the answer.
Part (c) was reasonably well answered although maximum marks were rare. Quite a few
candidates seemed unaware of the distinction between immediate and underlying

Question 9


Organisations are said to have both formal and informal

structures and groups.
Outline the difference between formal AND informal in this


The development of a health and safety culture requires control,

co-operation, communication and competence.
Outline what co-operation means in this context AND give
examples to support your answer.




Organisational change can, if not properly managed, promote a

negative health and safety culture.
Outline reasons for this.


This question related to Element 6 of the syllabus and assessed candidates

knowledge of learning outcomes 6.2, 6.4 and 6.7: Outline the different types of
organisation, their structure, function and the concept of the organisation as a system;
Explain the role, influences on and procedures for formal and informal consultation
with workers in the workplace; Outline the factors which can both positively and
negatively affect health and safety culture and climate.
This question was popular with candidates and assessed a core area of the syllabus.
Few candidates were able to give good enough answers to gain reasonable marks
In part (a) of the question, candidates in the main were able to outline the differences
between formal and informal structures although some struggled to put into words their
understanding of the concept and relied on charts to earn them the marks. Many
candidates wrote specifically about formal being hierarchical and informal being more
adhoc, based on relationships and the fact that goals may be different with no clear
roles and responsibilities.
Answers to part (b) of the question required candidates to link co-operation with the
development of a safety culture in a practical way with suitable examples. In many
instances candidates did not make this link and again were unable to gain good marks
as a result.
Answers to part (c) of the question appeared to demonstrate a lack of understanding of
the influence of management on culture with few candidates able to give acceptable
reasons why the lack of sympathetic management could promote a negative safety
A number of candidates outlined how to promote a positive health and safety culture or
how to effectively manage change in an organisation but in so doing they did not answer
the question asked.

Question 10


Outline the principle of fault tree analysis.



Outline the technique of fault tree analysis.



Outline the limitations of fault tree analysis.



An office is protected with an automatic fire detection and alarm

system. A number of false alarms have been activated. A false
alarm can be triggered by sunlight striking a UV flame detector,
dust obscuring a smoke detector or by a failure of the primary
power supply. The primary power is normally supplied by
connection to the mains electricity. If this should fail, a back-up
generator activates to supply the electricity.

The expected probabilities of the causes of the false alarms are shown
Cause of false alarm


Sunlight striking a UV flame detector


Dust obscuring a smoke detector


Power failure


Back-up generator does not start



Construct a simple fault tree AND calculate the probability of a

false alarm. Show calculations in EACH case.



Identify the main cause of false alarms.



Outline remedial actions that could minimise false alarms.


This question related to Element 4 of the syllabus and assessed candidates

knowledge of learning outcomes 4.4: Explain the principles and techniques of failure
tracing methodologies with the use of calculations.
This question was not well answered. It was interesting that most of the marks gained in
this question came from the construction of the tree and the calculation rather than
understating the fault tree processes.
In part (a) of the question, most candidates picked up on working backwards and to
determine the probability of a top/undesired event.
In part (b) of the question a number of candidates identified the need to determine the
top event, the use of and/or gates, to identify the top event and failure probability and to
control causes. There were also candidates that explained incorrectly about the process
of how to go about conducting a fault tree analysis.
In part (c) only a few candidates picked up on needing specialists and accuracy of data
when conducting a fault tree analysis.
In part (d) tree constructions were varied and many made errors in the calculations.
Candidates are advised to be thorough in their preparation and take the time to check
their answers to ensure that simple errors do not cost marks.
Almost all candidates were able to identify the main cause of the false alarms their
suggestions for remedial actions however, varied in quality. Having identified that the
main cause was sunlight striking the detector, some of the remedial actions offered were
not related to this probability.

Question 11

You are the health and safety manager attending an annual senior
management meeting where health and safety performance objectives
are being reviewed.

Outline factors that should be considered when setting health

and safety performance objectives.



Explain why health and safety performance should be reviewed.



Outline factors that should be considered when reviewing health

and safety performance.


This question related to Element 3 of the syllabus and assessed candidates

knowledge of learning outcomes 3.4: Explain the requirement for reviewing health and
safety performance.
Around half of the candidates attempted this question which was not well answered. The
poor performance may be because this was a new question to the portfolio and took
candidates by surprise.


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