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January 2014

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

Examiners Report


Unit IC International workplace
and work equipment safety

January 2014


Introduction 2

General comments 3

Comments on individual questions 4

2014 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


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

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 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 IC International workplace and work equipment safety

Question 1 During a construction project, a number of different types of crane will be
necessary to carry out mechanical lifting operations.

Outline factors that would need to be considered when selecting cranes
that are suitable for the required lifting operations. (10)

This question related to Elements IC5 and IC7 of the syllabus and assessed
candidates knowledge of learning outcomes IC5.1 Suitability of work equipment and
hazards and IC7.2 Controls associated with lifting equipment.

Some managed to answer this question but the majority were limited by a general lack of
knowledge about the subject.

A number of candidates did not read the question thoroughly and as a consequence,
answered incorrectly. Some outlined how to plan a lift and went into depth, variously
discussing risk assessment, checking test certificates, safety features, maintenance,
fuel supplies, tandem lifting, ergonomics, weather conditions or training/competence.

Some candidates discussed different types of cranes and their lift applications on a
construction site and were able to accrue some marks. It seems that these candidates
were distracted by the mention of different types of crane in the stem and failed to
focus on the factors when selecting.

The average marks gained was below half marks.

Question 2 (a) Identify features of floor design that may help to reduce the risk
of slipping. (4)

(b) Outline THREE methods of reducing the slip potential of the floor
in use AND gi ve reasons why EACH method would be effective. (6)

This question related to Element IC1 of the syllabus and assessed candidates
knowledge of learning outcome IC1.1 Safe working environment.

This is a topic new to the 2011 syllabus but is an area that practitioners should be
familiar with. Candidates have been on notice that this is a suitable subject area for
examination questions. The expectation of the Examiners was that this would be a
popular and high scoring question. Despite this, the question was not well answered by
the majority of candidates.

In part (a) many used general phrases like non-slip flooring, rather than showing an
understanding of the characteristics of a slip resistant surface. Whilst most knew that the
floor should be level, almost all candidates spoke of the need for handrails. The second
part of the question was generally very limited, with many answers revolving around
cleaning up spills and providing good lighting and signage.

In part (b), the knowledge of the topic seemed limited with many candidates unable to
move beyond the provision of matting and the provision of non-slip footwear. Methods

Section A all questions compulsory

that were raised by several candidates involved roughening the existing surface by
chemical or mechanical means or to apply a high friction coating.

Question 3 A 50 litre compressed air receiver made of welded steel is used in a
factory pneumatic system. It is operating at a nominal pressure of 10
bar/1MPa. During a routine operation, the compressed air receiver
ruptured when the weld running along its length failed.

(a) Outline why the compressed air receiver is classified as a
pressure system. (4)

(b) Outline possible technical and procedural causes for the failure
of the compressed air receiver during operation. (6)

This question related to Element IC11 of the syllabus and assessed candidates
knowledge of learning outcomes IC11.3 Pressure systems and 11.4 Failure of
pressure systems.

Overall this question was answered very well though a small number of candidates
misunderstood the question and thought that the receiver was working in a welding
fabrication facility and that this environment caused the failure.

Some candidates spent a lot of time describing the type of failure for example, brittle,
ductile failure, rather than concentrating on the technical and procedural causes.
However a lot of candidates were able to get marks in the upper percentile.

Most showed a good knowledge of why the air receiver constitutes a pressure system
and were able to draw good conclusions as to what may have caused the system to
rupture as it did.

Question 4 The control of risk when using work equipment relies on having trained
and competent workers who are appropriately supervised.

(a) Explain the differences between training AND competence. (4)

(b) Outline circumstances when training is likely to be required. (3)

(c) Explain the relationship between competence AND supervision. (3)

This question related to Element IC5 of the syllabus and assessed candidates
knowledge of learning outcome IC5.4 Training and competence.

This was another new topic area in the 2011 syllabus and was better answered than
other new topics. In part (c) few candidates managed to link the level of supervision as
inversely related to levels of competence but many were able to identify when training
would be required and gained marks that way.

Several candidates wrongly outlined the standards required of a competent supervisor.


Question 5 Unless appropriate precautions are taken, chemical reactions in a batch
manufacturing process can give rise to conditions that can lead to a
runaway reaction.

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

(b) Identify 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)

This question related to Element IC4 of the syllabus and assessed candidates
knowledge of learning outcome IC4.3 Industrial chemical processes.

This was a popular question for many who had revised the topic area well and it attracted
high marks for a lot of candidates. Some missed out on outlining the uncontrolled nature
of the exothermic reaction, thus making it a runaway reaction, but generally still did well
by knowing the component areas of the chemical reaction, the part played by
temperature and pressure and how the runaway reaction could be prevented.

Overall this was a well-received and well-answered question, which boosted many
candidates overall marks.

Question 6 (a) Explain how metal fatigue occurs. (4)

(b) Outline factors that can promote the following types of material

(i) brittle fracture; (3)
(ii) ductile failure. (3)

This question related to Element IC6 of the syllabus and assessed candidates
knowledge of learning outcome IC6.2 Generic hazards.

There was a very mixed response to this question with many candidates not being sure
of which type of failure was which. This resulted in a lot of candidates giving the same
criteria at different questions which indicated that they knew about things like plasticity,
brittleness, shock loading, continual and cyclic stresses, the part that high and low
temperatures can play, but did not quite know what applied where. Overall though there
were some decent marks achieved here and most candidates picked up at least mid-
range marks.


Question 7 A conference centre is planning to extend its existing building to
incorporate childcare facilities on the ground floor and additional
conference rooms to hire out to local organisations on the upper floors.

Outline the range of factors that would need to be reviewed following
completion of the planned work to enable the conference centres fire risk
assessment to be updated. (20)

This question related to Element IC3 of the syllabus and assessed candidates
knowledge of learning outcomes IC3.1 IC3.5 Workplace fire risk assessment.

This was for the most part a well-answered question with a lot of candidates gaining ten
marks or more. This was a question that had to be read and understood fully to get high
marks and one or two candidates displayed very good understanding of the question.

The better answers used phrases like additional requirements and extra amounts of
because they recognised the greater demand put upon the fire risk assessment by the
change of usage, the increase in numbers of people (including children) and their
specific needs. Unfortunately a small amount of candidates gave the requirements of a
standard assessment and missed the need to identify specific new hazards introduced
by the changes.

Question 8 A small organisation manufactures products using electro-chemical
processes. The organisation has poor general standards of health and
safety, made worse by the presence of conductive and corrosive fluids
and humid, corrosive atmospheres.

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

(b) Outline the technical information that a competent electrician
would require before conducting an inspection of a fixed electrical
system. (10)

This question related to Element IC8 of the syllabus and assessed candidates
knowledge of learning outcomes IC8.3 Electrical systems.

At least one candidate gained full marks for this question. In part (a), some candidates
seem to have seen an explosive atmosphere in the question and went on to discuss
intrinsic safety and flame-proofing. There were some good answers.

In part (b), many of the candidates seemed to be providing rote-learned answers. Some
candidates included a range of non-technical information rather than what was required.

Section B three from five questions to be attempted


Question 9 An independent scaffold is to be used as a working platform to carry out
repairs to a two-storey building.

(a) Outline factors that should be considered in order to confirm that
the scaffold is safe to use. (15)

(b) Identify the inspection requirements for the scaffold. (5)

This question related to Element IC9 of the syllabus and assessed candidates
knowledge of learning outcomes IC9.3 Work at height.

This question was generally well answered although common errors occurred as
candidates failed to understand part (a) was looking for safe erection of the scaffold and
part (b) looking for on-going assurance of the condition of the scaffold. Candidates made
poor use of their time by including and often repeating elements that were required for
one part of the question in the other. Some candidates did not seem to recognise the
marking weighting on this question with equal volume of effort in terms of text written
going into parts (a) and (b).

Question 10 There has been a steady increase in the number of road traffic incidents
causing vehicle damage and injuries to engineers who work for a multi-
national organisation. The engineers are required to provide technical
cover to clients in a number of countries around the world as part of the
organisations global operations. To attend clients sites, engineers are
required to take scheduled air travel and then drive from the airport to the
site in hired cars.

(a) Outline factors associated with this work that can increase the
risk of road incidents involving the engineers. (10)

(b) Outline practical ways of managing the work-related driving risk
to the engineers. (10)

This question related to Element IC10 of the syllabus and assessed candidates
knowledge of learning outcomes IC10.2 Driving at work.

This was another question on the paper that drew on new elements in the 2011

This question was attempted by around half of the candidates but many of those found
this challenging, with some referring to driving on the clients site rather than to it.

Although popular, this question did not attract particularly high marks. However, the best
answers dealt with the fatigue and stress caused by the long flight along with measures
to alleviate this by allowing the engineers time to rest by planning the trip to a schedule.

Many good answers identified the need for engineers to have information on driving in
foreign countries with regard to road signs, left and right hand driving and local traffic
rules. The very best answers included suggesting taxis or chauffer driven cars from the
airport to the clients site.


Question 11 In relation to dust explosions:

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

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

(c) identify FOUR key features of a nitrogen inerting system; (4)

(d) other than a nitrogen inerting system, outline design features
that would minimise the risk of a dust explosion. (8)

This question related to Element IC2.1 of the syllabus and assessed candidates
knowledge of learning outcomes IC2.1 Properties of flammable and explosive

Those who attempted this question seemed to know the topic well. Almost all the
candidates who answered it did quite well with it and gained good mid-range marks.
Parts (a), (b) and (d) were well answered. It was part (c) that let some candidates down,
due to them not understanding the layout of the nitrogen inerting system. Nevertheless
most did well in identifying the components of the explosion pentagon though only one
candidate clearly identified it as such. Almost all could outline the conditions required for
a secondary dust explosion as well as outlining the features that would mitigate against
the risk of a dust explosion.

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