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January 2009

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

Examiners Report


Unit IC International workplace
and work equipment safety



Introduction 2

General comments 3

Comments on individual questions 4

2009 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

T(s):exrpts/J /J -C0901 EXTERNAL DW/DA/REW


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 over 25,000 candidates annually and are offered by
over 400 course providers in 65 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 recognised and regulated by the UK regulatory authorities:

The Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator (Ofqual) in England
The Department for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills (DCELLS) in Wales
The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) in Northern Ireland

NEBOSH follows the GCSE, GCE, VCE, GNVQ and AEA Code of Practice 2007/8 published by the
regulatory authorities in relation to examination setting and marking (available at the Ofqual website 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 Department for Education and Skills (Df ES), 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
LE10 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 one or more of the questions 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 a sufficient degree of
understanding. Candidates should prepare themselves for this vocational examination by ensuring
their understanding, not rote-learning pre-prepared answers.

Recurrent Problems

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 are failing because they 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.

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

UNIT IC International workplace and work equipment safety

Section A all questions compulsory

Question 1 A contractor is to repair the felt roofs of an office. Outline the measures
that should be taken to reduce the risks to workers and members of the
public. (10)

This question required candidates to outline the practical measures that should be
taken to protect both employees and members of the public whilst the contractors
repair work was in progress.

Selection and subsequent monitoring of the contractor is an important factor as are
the completion of risk assessments and the development of safe systems of work and
a method statement. Candidates, however, were expected to add to these general
points and outline the more specific measures required in this scenario, such as the
provision of appropriate means of access, the correct use of ladders, ensuring they
were tied and footed, and the provision of edge protection or other means to prevent
falls of persons and materials. Safe means of transporting tools and materials to and
from the roof including enclosed debris chutes, the removal of waste from the site,
precautions when using LPG and the use of trained and competent employees,
provided with appropriate personal protective equipment such as gloves, boots, knee
pads and masks are also crucial. Consideration should also be given to the possibility
of contact with hazardous substances such as tar or asbestos and precautions taken
to prevent exposure both of the contractors staff and members of the public.

Additional measures to improve the health and safety of the office staff and members
of the public include the erection of barriers and signs at ground level, safe
arrangements for vehicle movement and security measures to prevent access to the
site by unauthorised persons.


Question 2 A four-storey general hospital is to be refurbished and upgraded on a floor
by floor basis, with three floors of the hospital remaining operational at all

Outline the factors to be considered when writing fire evacuation
procedures for the parts of the hospital that remain operational during the
project. (10)

In writing fire evacuation procedures for the hospital, factors to be considered include:
the various activities involved such as wards, theatres, offices, outpatients and
visitors; the number of patients and staff to be evacuated; the mobility of the patients
including their medical condition and age; reviewing current and normal evacuation
procedures including escape routes, assembly points and fire brigade access and
identifying temporary procedures and routes such as the availability of operational lifts
for bed-ridden patients; consideration of a two stage evacuation procedure; the
provision of training to hospital and construction staff in the temporary arrangements;
ensuring that escape routes and assembly points are kept clear of construction
materials; the provision of emergency lighting and signage; considering the possibility
of emergency zoning and classification for example for full or partial evacuation;
assessing the effect of construction work on the existing detection, alarm and fire-
fighting systems and on the possibility that it might increase the risk of fire; and
assessing the need for first aid fire fighting provision and fire protection.

Question 3 A catastrophic fire occurs in a warehouse which stores a substance which
gives off toxic products. The warehouse has an integral asbestos roof and
it is situated near to a densely populated area. The fire burns for a day
and completely destroys the building.

(a) Identify the environmental impacts related to this event, giving a
probable source of EACH. (5)

(b) Identify the range of design features that could prevent or
mitigate the environmental impacts of such an event at these
premises. (5)

In answering the first part of the question, candidates should have identified that the
initial impact of the fire on the environment would be the release to atmosphere of
greenhouse gases (including, eg carbon dioxide, methane and ozone), smoke and
particulates such as soot. Additionally, asbestos fibres could be carried by air and
contaminate the locality. There would also be the possibility that toxic products could
enter sewers and water courses and also soak into the soil causing a detrimental
effect on flora and fauna. Unless precautions were taken, fire fighting media could run
off to watercourses whilst in the clean-up after the fire, waste products and sludge
could be deposited in landfill sites.

For part (b), design features that could have prevented or mitigated the impact on the
environment include the initial construction of the building with non-combustible
materials and introducing compartmentalisation; using a roofing material other than
asbestos; providing protective fireproof coatings on steelwork; using impervious
material in the construction of the floor; providing a flameproof storage container for
the critical toxic substances; installing a fixed fire detection and protection system;
fitting interceptors to the drains; constructing a bund round the warehouse; using fire
water catch tanks or lagoons during the fire fighting operation and treating residual
solids before consigning them to landfill sites.


Question 4 Outline the practical control measures that can be taken to minimise risk
when operating a bench-mounted circular saw. (10)

This question was concerned with the application of machinery safety principles to a
specific item of work equipment. Good answers included reference to the need for the
correct operation and/or adjustment of the top guard; the effective guarding of the
blade beneath the bench; the use of a push stick to feed through the material being
sawn and extending the machine table where persons are employed to remove the
material whilst the machine was in motion; the correct positioning of the riving knife
and the correct selection, maintenance and adjustment of the blade. Other measures
that could have been outlined related to the training and competence of the operators;
the provision of a local exhaust ventilation system; the provision and use of personal
protective equipment such as goggles and hearing protection; the provision of
sufficient space around the machine which should be kept free from obstruction; the
provision of an emergency stop device and means of isolation; ensuring good
standards of lighting, heating and ventilation; ensuring the stability of the machine
and introducing procedures to ensure the regular maintenance of the machine and
that guards were always in position.

Question 5 Legislation relating to lifting operations and lifting equipment often
specifies fixed intervals between thorough examinations of lifting
equipment but also includes an option for thorough examination to be
carried out in accordance with an examination scheme.

Outline the factors that a competent person would need to take into
account when deciding whether less frequent examinations might be
justified. (10)

In answering this question, Examiners were looking to candidates to outline factors
which the competent person would need to take into account such as the age of the
equipment and its history including the extent of use, the loads lifted and the
environments in which it has been used and its current and anticipated future use.
Other factors which should also be considered include: the standards and
specifications to which the equipment had been designed and manufactured and the
quality conformance of materials at the time of manufacture; the manufacturers
recommendations on testing, inspection and maintenance and whether they have
been adhered to (by reference to records); the equipments accident, breakdown and
repair history; records of modifications and the fitting of replacement parts; the records
of previous thorough examinations; the typical performance history of similar items of
equipment and any insurance company requirements.


Question 6 Unless appropriate precautions are taken, chemical reactions in a batch
manufacturing process can give rise to conditions which can lead to a
runaway reaction.

(a) Describe what is meant by runaway reaction. (2)

(b) Identify the conditions that may give rise to such an event. (4)

(c) Outline the design and operational features of chemical
processes that are necessary to prevent such an event. (4)

Candidates could have described runaway reaction as: an uncontrolled exothermic
reaction where the heat produced exceeds the heat removed. The surplus heat raises
the temperature of the reaction mass and hence the reaction rate resulting in a
runaway reaction. Reference could also have been made to the fact that the rate of
heat production is exponential whereas the rate of heat removal is linear.

Candidates could then have gone on for part (b) to identify conditions such as: the
presence of a strongly exothermic reaction; inadequate provision of, or failure in
cooling of the reaction; the presence of contaminant catalysis; excessive quantities of
reactants present in the reactor; the lack of sensitive temperature detection and
control; the insulation of the reaction vessel where solid residues have built up on the
internal walls of the vessel and mixer failure with loss of agitation.

For part (c), carrying out a hazard and operability study (HAZOP) on the reaction
process would be appropriate in this scenario. This might then lead to the inclusion of
design features such as: high integrity temperature detection being linked to the
cooling/reactant addition system; pressure rise detection linked to cooling, venting or
auto shut-down; the protection of the vessel by correctly sized bursting discs; and the
fitting of an agitation failure alarm. Candidates could have outlined operational
features such as ensuring that: only a high calibre of operator was employed in such
processes; that decision making requirements by operators in response to adverse
operating conditions were minimised; that maintenance and/or raw material handling
do not introduce potential catalysts into the reaction; that the rate of addition of
reactants was limited and that inappropriate scale-up or fouling was avoided.


Section B three from five questions to be attempted

Question 7 A rectangular warehouse building (40m x 100m ground area and 18m
high) was constructed on a structural steel framework, with a flat roof and
coated steel walls. During a storm, the warehouse suffered a catastrophic
failure of one of its long walls which in turn caused the collapse of the roof
and buckling of the other walls.

(a) Outline the possible causes of this structural failure. (10)

(b) Outline the health and safety issues to be considered when
planning the subsequent demolition of the damaged warehouse. (10)

Possible mechanisms of structural failure that could have been outlined in answering
part (a) of this question included: impact damage by moving plant creating initial
weakness; adverse weather conditions where the designed wind loadings were
exceeded or low temperature resulting in brittle failure; overloading of the structure by
excess weight on the roof caused by snow or rain water; weakening of the steelwork
by corrosion through roof leaks or the in-operation of rain water drains; alteration to
structural members which had invalidated the original design calculations; subsidence
or nearby excavation or tunnelling operations creating instability and vibration caused
by the volume of passing traffic or wind variation which would result in fatigue.

For part (b), issues that should have been outlined were the competence of the
demolition contractor; the method to be used for demolishing the partially collapsed
structure to prevent premature collapse of the remainder and the preparation of a
method statement to indicate the systematic approach that would be taken;
precautions to be taken to prevent falls of people or material; the identification and
isolation of buried services such as electricity, water and gas; the inspection,
examination and maintenance of plant and equipment to be used; issues associated
with manual handling and the use of mechanical equipment where this was possible;
procedures for the removal of waste including categorised waste and the contents of
the warehouse; identification of the possible presence of asbestos or lead paint;
protection of adjoining property; the provision of appropriate personal protective
equipment for the employees such as hard hats, boots and eye protection; the
protection of the public including the erection of barriers and the introduction of
arrangements to ensure site security; contaminated land issues and the need to
introduce pest control.


Question 8 A pressurised steam boiler requires an examination; at the same time a
repair on an electrically driven pump, associated with the boiler, is

(a) Define the term relevant fluid in relation to pressure systems
safety. (4)

(b) Outline the typical contents of a written scheme of examination
form for the boiler. (8)

(c) Identify the practical measures that should be taken to carry out
the pump repair safely. (8)

A relevant fluid means steam; any fluid or mixture of fluids which is at a pressure
greater than 0.5 bar above atmospheric pressure and which fluid or mixture of fluids
is a gas, or a liquid having a vapour pressure greater than 0.5 bar above atmospheric
pressure when in equilibrium with its vapour at either the actual temperature of the
liquid or at 17.5C; or a gas dissolved under pressure in a solvent contained in a
porous substance at ambient temperature and which could be released from the
solvent without the application of heat.

In their outline of the typical contents of a written scheme of examination form for the
inspection of a boiler, candidates were expected to refer to items such as: the
identification of the items of plant or equipment within the system; the parts of the
system which are to be examined; the nature of the examination required including the
inspection and testing to be carried out on protective devices; the preparatory work
needed for the item to be examined safely; the maximum interval between
examinations; whether an imminent danger report is required to be given to the
enforcing authority and/or the employer; the critical parts of the system if modified or
repaired which must be examined by a competent person before the system is used
again; the name of the competent person certifying the written scheme and the date of

For part (c), candidates should have initially identified the need to issue a permit to
work which would specify the control measures to be taken such as: the isolation and
locking off of the electrical power to the pump; the isolation of pipelines by locking
valves or inserting blanks; releasing stored energy, de-pressurising, draining and
decontaminating the pump; allowing hot machinery to cool to at least 50C;
segregating the work by the use of barriers and signs and providing safe means of
access for employees who were to carry out the repair work. Other measures that
should be taken include the use of skilled and competent personnel to carry out the
work; the provision and use of personal protective equipment such as head protection,
eye protection and gloves; the provision of a good standard of lighting and ventilation
and finally ensuring co-ordination with the person conducting the examination of the


Question 9 Small electroplating companies often have poor standards of health and
safety, made worse by the presence of conductive and corrosive fluids,
and humid corrosive atmospheres.

(a) Describe the types of fault that may be found in fixed electrical
systems under such conditions. (10)

(b) Outline the information relating to fixed electrical systems that will
be required prior to a survey by a competent person. (10)

The first part of this question sought to examine candidates knowledge of typical
faults within an electrical system and how a corrosive atmosphere may exacerbate the
problems. Issues that should have been described included poor earthing, damaged
sockets and switchgear, covers missing from junction boxes, incompetent
workmanship and inadequate excess current protection. Additional problems caused
by the atmosphere include exposed live conductors due to damaged or perished
insulation; short circuits caused by the ingress of fluids; corrosion of system parts
such as access grilles and transformer casings; and the unsuitability of the equipment
for use in such wet and corrosive conditions.

For part (b), the type of information required by a competent electrician prior to
carrying out a survey would include: the type of equipment and its rating (eg
operating voltage and current); its IP classification (including the measure of
protection against the ingress of water); any circuit diagrams and/or manuals for the
equipment and details of any modifications made; means of isolation and its location;
earthing arrangements; the type and size of cables; details on the operation of
protective devices and copies of previous inspection reports.

Question 10 (a) Outline the possible health and safety effects of inadequate
workplace lighting. (4)

(b) Outline the factors that should be considered to ensure that
lighting in a workplace is suitable and sufficient. (16)

Better answers were able to identify the effects of inadequate lighting as those relating
to health and those relating to safety. Health effects may include headaches, visual
fatigue or eye strain and blurred vision and the effects of adopting a poor posture,
such as neck and backache in order to have an adequate view of the task being
performed. Safety implications include the likelihood of an increase in accidents due to
trips, falls and striking against objects because the hazards are not identified, because
of the use of the wrong type of lighting such as those producing a stroboscopic effect
and through human error in performing a task which may put others at risk.

For part (b), the factors to be considered in providing suitable and sufficient lighting
include amongst others: the type of work to be undertaken, the amount of precision
required and whether the tasks require general, local and/or localised lighting; the
workplace layout giving attention to the effects of screens, furniture or racking and the
shadows that might be cast; the levels of lighting in adjacent areas in order to avoid
the effects of moving from a strongly lit area to one which is dimly lit and vice versa;
the different types and levels of lighting required for stairs, corridors and outside
security lights; the level of natural light available; the individual needs of the
employees whether on account of age or disability; the possibility of glare on display
screens and through reflection from other surfaces such as wall surfaces; the colour
and types of lighting fitted to prevent stroboscopic effects; the need for emergency
lighting particularly for fire escape routes; the need for portable lighting when work has
to be carried out in confined spaces and the ease of maintenance whether replacing
spent bulbs or cleaning the light fittings.


Question 11 In relation to dust explosions:

(a) explain the conditions that must be present for a primary dust
explosion to occur; (4)

(b) explain the additional conditions necessary for secondary
explosions to occur; (4)

(c) identify FOUR factors that may affect the reliability of a nitrogen
inerting system used in a powdered aluminium process; (4)

(d) identify the design features that would minimise the likelihood and
effect of a dust explosion. (8)

In order for a primary dust explosion to occur, the dust must be combustible, must be
capable of becoming airborne and mixing with air and its particle size and distribution
must be capable of propagating flame. Additionally the concentration of dust must fall
within the explosive limits, an ignition source of sufficient heat energy must come in
contact with the dust and the atmosphere must contain sufficient oxygen to sustain

Additional conditions necessary for secondary explosions to occur include the
dislodgement of accumulated dust from horizontal surfaces within the affected building
by the pressure wave and consequent air turbulence created by the primary explosion
and the airborne suspension of combustible dust throughout the affected area which is
ignited by the original primary explosion ignition source or by the combustion of
products from the primary explosion or by any other ignition source with sufficient heat
energy within the affected area.

In answering part (c), candidates could have identified factors such as the number and
location of sampling points; the type and calibration of the sensors; the presence of
contaminants in the system which could interfere with readings; inadequate provision
of a safe means of shutdown if oxygen levels are too high; the adequacy of the supply
of inerting gas; the number of locations where air can enter the plant or process and
the reliability of the electronic control system.

In identifying design features that would minimise the likelihood and effect of a dust
explosion, candidates should have referred to; the initial design of the ducting and
equipment to withstand the effects of an explosion; the importance of ensuring the
ducting was dust tight; providing local exhaust ventilation at points of transfer;
installing explosion relief or suppression systems together with systems for
suppressing fire; using screw conveyors instead of pneumatic systems for moving
materials; providing a magnetic extraction system for removing metal from product fed
to the plant; interlocking equipment to prevent overfilling of vessels and over-
pressurisation; using instrument systems with integral emergency shutdown; using
intrinsically safe electrical equipment and bonding all metal work to earth; preventing
dust build up in the plant by the use of sloping surfaces and introducing a mechanised
system for the humidification of the air.

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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