What is the NEBOSH General Certificate?

6 minute read | Jun 28 2018

nebosh-transparentreduced-6The NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety (NGC) is a foundation level (level-3) and the most popular health and safety qualification in the UK. It will introduce you to the principles of risk management how to incorporate them into day-to-day decisions.

In this post we talk about exactly what the NEBOSH General Certificate is about, its learning outcomes and why it's so popular amongst employers. Our introduction to The NEBOSH General Certificate is also a great resource to check out!

Health and safety affects people in every workplace, which is why the NGC attracts people from all types of backgrounds, including: HR managers, operations managers, company directors, health and safety advisors, ex-forces personnel, public sector workers, and of course budding health and safety professionals.

As a foundation level qualification, you don’t need any previous health and safety knowledge or experience before taking the course; you’ll learn everything you need to know about managing health and safety throughout your studies.

The NGC is split into 3 units, and in this blog we’ll walk you through exactly what you’ll learn from each one so that if you’re thinking about taking the qualification you’ll know just what to expect. 

Working outside the UK?

If you are not based in the UK, learn more about the NEBOSH International General Certificate.

What is the NEBOSH General Certificate about?

Unit NGC1: The Management of Health and Safety

Unit NGC1 is the part of the course where you’ll learn how to manage health and safety in different types of workplaces.

You’ll begin by looking at the UK legal system and different types of law; criminal and civil. If the worst should happen and a fatal accident occurs in work, the impact can go way past financial costs and public backlash; it can also mean time in prison for those that are found to be at fault. You’ll learn all about the consequences of failing to comply with the law and the prosecution process for both criminal and civil law, and gain an awareness of the different courts for each.

You’ll then go on to look at specific health and safety legislation and regulations such as the Health and Safety at Work Act etc. 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulation’s 1999 as amended 2002, and what they mean for employees, managers and organisations.

For the rest of the unit you’ll learn how to put in place an effective health and safety management system focused around the plan-do-check-act cycle. This includes everything from:

  • Writing a health and safety policy
  • Creating a positive safety culture
  • Improving health and safety behaviour 
  • Carrying out risk assessments
  • Control measures and risk reduction 
  • Developing safe systems of work
  • Investigating, recording and reporting accidents and incidents
  • Auditing management arrangements
  • Monitoring, measuring and reviewing performance

By the end of Unit NGC1 you’ll have learnt the fundamental knowledge to be able to manage health and safety in any type of environment, in line with UK HSE legislation.

GC2: Controlling Workplace Hazards

The second part of the course, GC2, is where you’ll develop the skills to confidently identify and control a wide range of common workplace hazards including general workplace hazards, manual handling, transport, work equipment, musculoskeletal, electrical, fire, chemical, psychological and physical.

For each topic you’ll learn the key elements of the hazard and the harm they can cause to workers, contractors and the general public. Remembering the legislation, regulations and risk management methods you learnt in NGC1, you’ll then learn how to apply appropriate control measures to help reduce the risk of each hazard.

GC3: Health and Safety Practical Application

Unit GC3 differs from NGC1 and GC2 in that it isn’t a taught unit, but rather an assessment of the knowledge and skills you’ve learnt previously.

You’ll carry out an inspection of a workplace of your choosing and make an observation of its hazards, the harmful result of those hazards, and the short and long term control measures required to reduce their risk. You’ll then write up your findings in a health and safety report intended to persuade management to take action.

NEBOSH General Certificate exams

The NEBOSH General Certificate has three assessments; one for each module. Unit NGC1 and GC2 are both assessed with a written exam, while GC3 is a marked assignment.

Find out what to expect from NEBOSH General Certificate Exams here.

Why is the NEBOSH General Certificate so popular?

Accidents and work-related ill-health affects all types of workplaces and occupations, and the vast majority of them can be prevented through good health and safety management. As well as the direct costs of sick pay and absence, employers can find themselves dealing with criminal prosecution and public backlash, which is why more and more are investing time and money in developing their health and safety strategy. 

The main objective of the NEBOSH General Certificate is to provider learners with the skills and knowledge for them to help create a safe working environment within their workplace, so it's no wonder that 90% of HSE job advertisements now ask for this qualification as a minimum. 

For more information on the NEBOSH General Certificate as a whole take a look at our introduction:

Want to know more? Get Your Free NEBOSH Certificate Taster Pack

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Rosie Thomas

Rosie is the International Marketing Executive at Astutis. After graduating with a degree in Business and Management from Aberystwyth University, she joined the Astutis team to work closely with our learning development team and health and safety consultants to create useful content for our readers. Since taking her Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing online, Rosie particularly enjoys writing how-to-guides and career posts, using her own experience of online learning and professional development to offer advice to those thinking of taking a health and safety career. Rosie has also taken her NEBOSH General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety.