How to Avoid Common Mistakes in the NEBOSH Diploma Unit DNI

9 minute read | 22 June 2018 16:59:33 BST


If you are studying the NEBOSH National or International Diploma and you are planning the DNI dissertation, this post will help you prepare for this Unit. As a NEBOSH Diploma trainer, and examiner, I see students who are at all stages of the NEBOSH diploma process, and I mark submissions for the DNI.

Practical DNI Registration Checks

  • Make sure you have registered for your preferred submission date of the Unit DNI by completing the registration form through your course provider.
  • Don’t forget that you must have sat exams for Units A, B and C (National NEBOSH Diploma) or IA, IB and IC (International NEBOSH Diploma) before you will be eligible to submit the DNI assignment. However, you do not need to have got your results back or even passed these exams to be allowed to submit unit DNI.
  • There are 4 submission dates a year, typically the last Wednesday in February, May, August and November. You must register for the DNI 8 weeks before the submission date. Late registrations will not be accepted. There is a registration cut-off date. If you fail to register with your provider in time, you will not be eligible to submit your DNI assignment and will have to wait for the next submission. Remember you are NOT automatically enrolled for the DNI submission by your course provider. The onus is on the student to determine when you are ready to submit and complete the registration form in time.

Key Points Before you Start your Assignment

Read the student NEBOSH Unit DNI: make sure that you have logged into the NEBOSH website and have Read the student NEBOSH Unit DNIdownloaded a copy of the current student NEBOSH Unit DNI guide version 5. Do NOT refer to the old Unit D that is still available on the NEBOSH website for a limited period. Unit D is now out of date and has been replaced with Unit DNI. I would suggest that you read and digest this document before setting up a Word document for your DNI.

Presentation of your Assignment: check that you are using the required font, headings, typeface, and include a contents page, as this will help the examiner to navigate the assignment more easily. When the examiner gets the DNI from you, it is electronically received and marked. It is important therefore that any information that you decide to include will be easy to read when transferred into electronic format. Avoid poorly scanned images, writing and graphs that are too small to read on A4 sized paper. Having marked many DNI assignments, I would suggest presenting text, tables etc. in portrait orientation rather than landscape, as it is easier to read electronically.

The aim of the DNI assignment: the DNI is based on reviewing the arrangements for managing Health and Safety in a workplace against the criteria set out in the student guide. The student is then expected to apply knowledge gained from units A/IA, B/IB and C/IC to critically review information gathered. Following this, you must produce justified, proportionate recommendations to improve health and safety performance.

Write in the third person: remember that the assignment should not be written using “I”, or “we” for example “I did this or that or “we did this”. Instead, use expressions such as “It was found, or “the evidence in this area shows X Y or Z.”

Write for the layperson not a specialist in Health and Safety: avoid reference to machinery or equipment that won’t mean anything to anyone outside of the company. If you need to explain what specific equipment or processes are in place, write it from a layman’s perspective. I marked one DNI and it took me till almost to the end of the assignment before I understood the function of a piece of equipment being referenced as the person submitting had used a trade name and presumed that I knew what it was. Write clear descriptions of equipment or processes.

Harvard or Vancouver Referencing: naturally, the DNI must be your own work. Ensure that if you are quoting references to other sources, that this is done using either the Harvard or Vancouver referencing system.  If you are unsure of these referencing systems, you can research it online. When you reference any legislation make sure it is done accurately. Don't lose marks on in accurate referencing. of legislation. Please make sure that the assignment is your own work; anti-plagiarism software is used on all submissions. All examiners will conduct a check of any copying of information from others as part of the marking process.

Appendices: make sure that you do not put a whole copy of the company’s Health and Safety policy in the appendix, but instead use the appendices sparingly for essential information. Do however, include structure charts, or other pictorial/graphical information where relevant. For example, 40 pages of text with no diagrams or pictures is not really meeting the brief.

Rules on tutor support: tutors are NOT allowed to mark, comment or review your DNI assignment for you unless they are officially marking it. Tutors can assist you to plan your DNI but cannot review the actual submission document or any sections of it. I would strongly recommend that you discuss your plan for the DNI with your course provider before tackling it. Tutors are allowed to discuss the plan with you, but not allowed to review the submission for you.

Evidence-based information: the examiner is looking for evidence that you actually gather yourself. Having no evidence submitted makes your DNI stand out for the wrong reasons. A good way to approach doing this is to presume that the examiner is not going to take your word for anything and therefore everything you say must be evidence based. The evidence must be included within the DNI so that the examiner knows that you did the work and not someone else.

Understand HSG65: before you start your DNI submission, download and read the HSE document HSG65 HSG5 is based on plan-do-check-actupon which the DNI is based. Bear this in mind if your management system is based on another format. Your DNI must meet the NEBOSH criteria, which is based on the HSG65 document.

Getting Started on the Content of your DNI

Use the DNI student guide for a breakdown of your assignment: it is essential you use the DNI student guide to help you understand what needs to be included in each part of your report. Refer to pages 6 to 10 to understand what needs to be included in each section of you report, questions that need to be discussed and which section the information needs to be. To get a feel of the standard of content review the marking breakdown on pages 11 to 14 Level Descriptors. Aim for level 1, the highest marks, guide for what the examiner expects in each section. 

Writing your introduction: you could use your company’s website to see if there is any relevant content when researching what to say in the introduction. When referring to your department or sub function, make it clear by using charts or diagrams where each department fits in the bigger picture. I have found that sometimes a diagram showing the layout of an area under discussion can be particularly helpful when trying to visualise a working area.

Role of the health and safety practitioner: don’t forget to discuss the role of the health and safety practitioner (found in Unit A11 in National Diploma, Unit A9 in International Diploma) in the assignment and professional ethics in practice. If you have used questionnaires or accident reports, ensure that no personal data is included within the submission. As an examiner I prefer to see summaries of questionnaire results, and an inclusion of one completed questionnaire (with sensitive data removed) if used within the appendices. This shows me that it is your work in a way that a blank pro-forma or questionnaire does not.

Use a RAG rating: when analysing the information about your health and safety management system in your chosen workplace, it may be useful to include a RAG rating (red/amber/green) against the criteria that you have chosen to compare against. This can determine a level of compliance against standards and assist you then in prioritising actions and forming recommendations in the later stages of the assignment.

Proof read: get a reliable proof-reader to assist you, once the assignment is written, ideally someone who does not work in health and safety to check it makes sense to him or her. I regularly mark submissions that do not read well with a poor use of English grammar and unclear expression. Remember you are judged against the standards of a health and safety professional practitioner, so use clear English with accurate grammar, terminology and tone throughout the submission.

Best of luck with your NEBOSH Diploma DNI!

Download Your Practical Guide To NEBOSH Diploma Exams

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Planning and Answering NEBOSH Diploma Exam Questions 

NEBOSH Diploma Study Guide

NEBOSH Diploma Key Exam Techniques Part 1

NEBOSH Diploma Key Exam Techniques Part 2


Tags: NEBOSH Diploma, Advice for learners

Lorna Bleyswyck CMIOSH, PGCE

Lorna is a highly qualified health and safety consultant with over 20 years experience within the field. As a trainer, she delivers tailored in-company training programmes with expertise in construction, renewable energy, banking, and within housing associations and charities. She also provides a wide range of health and safety consultancy services.