What is the NEBOSH General Certificate?

5 minute read | 28 June 2018 11:01:52 BST

What is the NEBOSH General Certificate about? Find out everything in our blog!

The NEBOSH General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety is a foundation level health and safety qualification. It teaches you about the importance of health and safety in the workplace and how to manage risk with a health and safety management system. 

Over 120,000 people took the course in 2017.  That makes it one of the most popular health and safety qualifications around the world (and the most requested by employers!). 

Because it's a foundation qualification, you don’t need any previous health and safety knowledge or experience before starting. That's also why people from so many different job roles are attracted to it. HR managers, health and safety officers, company directors, ex-forces workers and even public sector workers have taken the course. 

Sounds appealing, right? 

In this blog i'll walk you through what the course is about. But if you want to find out even more than take a look at our introduction to the NEBOSH General Certificate page.

Why is the NEBOSH General Certificate so popular?

Health and safety effects us all. And we all play a part in keeping each other safe so that we return home to our families at the end of the working day. 

Most accidents and ill-health can actually be prevented with good health and safety management. That's why it's so important for companies to have a person with the skills and understanding to be able to put those systems and processes into place. 

But not only does it keep people safe. It also helps make sure that companies are following the right regulations so they don't get caught out by a costly prosecution notice.  That's moral, legal and financial sense. 

The NEBOSH General Certificate develops the skills to do all that. And it's been developed in partnership with governments, enforcement agencies and employers to make sure those skills fit the modern workplace. So it's no wonder that 90% of HSE job advertisements now ask for this qualification as a minimum. 

What is the NEBOSH General Certificate about?

There are two versions of the course: the NEBOSH National General Certificate and the NEBOSH International General Certificate. They both follow the same structure and have the same learning outcomes. You can read more about the differences between the two courses here

Unit N/IGC1: The Management of Health and Safety

Unit N/IGC1 is the part of the course where you’ll learn about why it's important to manage health and safety, and how to do it. 

You’ll begin by looking at different types of laws and regulation and how the apply to workers, managers and your company. If the worst should happen and someone dies from an injury at work, the consequences for the company won't just be financial and damaged reputation.

It can also mean time in prison for anyone who is seen to neglect their responsibilities. You’ll learn all about these consequences, the prosecution process and enforcement agencies as you work your way through the course.

For the rest of the unit you’ll learn about how a health and safety management system works. 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

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. This includes everything from 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. Using the knowledge you gained in N/IGC1, 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 is different from N/IGC1 and GC2 because it isn’t a taught unit. It's an assessment of everything you've learnt in the previous units.

You’ll carry out an inspection of your chosen workplace and observe any hazards. Then you'll have to come up with short and long term control measures to reduce their risk. After that, you'll write up your findings in a health and safety report persuading management to take action.

What are the NEBOSH General Certificate exams like?

There are 3 exams all together. Units N/IGC1 and GC2 are both assessed with a written exam. GC3 is a marked assignment. We've written an entire blog post about the NEBOSH General Certificate exams here.

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.