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Example question

paper and Examiners


feedback on expected
answers (GC2)

Example question paper and


Examiners feedback on
expected answers
NEBOSH NATIONAL GENERAL CERTIFICATE
IN OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
UNIT NGC2 (now GC2):
CONTROLLING WORKPLACE HAZARDS

CONTENTS

Introduction

General comments

Comments on individual questions

NEBOSH, Dominus Way, Meridian Business Park, Leicester LE19 1QW


tel: 0116 263 4700

fax: 0116 282 4000

email: info@nebosh.org.uk

website: www.nebosh.org.uk

The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health is a registered charity, number 1010444

Introduction
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 50,000 candidates annually and are offered
by over 600 course providers, with exams taken in over 110 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 that applies best practice setting, assessment and marking and applies
to Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) regulatory requirements.
This report provides guidance for 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.
NEBOSH 2014

Any enquiries about this report publication should be addressed to:


NEBOSH
Dominus Way
Meridian Business Park
Leicester
LE19 1QW
tel:
0116 263 4700
fax:
0116 282 4000
email: info@nebosh.org.uk

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.
Course providers and candidates will benefit from use of the Guide to the NEBOSH National General
Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety which is available via the NEBOSH website. In
particular, the Guide sets out in detail the syllabus content for Unit GC2 and tutor reference
documents for each Element.
Some candidates may over rely on knowledge of health and safety gained through their own work
experience. While practical experiences can sometimes be helpful they are not a substitute for tuition
and study of the syllabus content, to the breadth and depth indicated in the Guide referred to above.
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.
Candidates should therefore note this Report has not been written to provide sample answers but to
give examples of what Examiners are expecting and more specifically to highlight areas of
underperformance.
Common weaknesses and suggestions to assist providers and candidates
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
assessment.
Weakness in examination technique

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

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
questions.

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 question
even when the question is on an unfamiliar topic. At the risk of stating the obvious, an
unattempted question will gain no marks. Questions or parts of questions missed can also
indicate a weakness in time management

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.
The comment below about rote learning may be relevant also.

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 benefit from the chance to practice answering questions in examination like conditions.
This should assist them to become familiar with the need to read questions carefully, consider, plan
their answer and then begin to write. By examination like conditions, practicing their answers within
appropriate time limits should help candidates with time management within the examination.
Feedback to candidates on their answers to questions is a key part of these practice activities.
Lack of attention to command word
-

Many candidates fail to apply the command words (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.
The most common weakness is the provision of too little content in an answer to meet the
requirement of the command word. This is an unfortunate error as it can mean that a
candidate who knows the topic, and correct points to include in their answer, misses out on
marks.

There is good guidance available to candidates and providers Guidance on command words and
question papers which can be accessed on the NEBOSH website. This guidance will assist
candidates to see and understand what is required in an answer when the different command words
are used in questions. Some candidates miss out on marks by spending too long writing about one or
two points when the answer requires more points to be covered. The chance to practice questions
with a range of command words and to receive feedback on the quality of their answers will benefit
candidates.
Rote learning
-

Some candidates appear to have answered a question they hoped to see in the question
paper rather than the question actually asked. This error can lead to all the available marks for
a question being missed, with the consequent impact on the likelihood of reaching a pass
standard.
The weakness described can be due to rote learning but may also relate to the need to read
and consider the question commented upon above

Other weaknesses observed

Candidates should also be aware that Examiners cannot award marks if handwriting is
illegible.

Candidates should note that it is not necessary to start a new page in their answer booklet for
each section of a question.

Unit GC 2
Controlling workplace hazards

Question 1

Periodic maintenance on a large item of machinery will require


employees to work at height.
(a)

(b)

(c)

Identify factors to consider in order to assess work at height


risks.

(4)

Outline precautions that could be taken to reduce working at


height risks.

(8)

Outline additional control measures that may be required for the


safe maintenance of the machinery.

(8)

Factors to be taken into account in assessing the risks from working at height in the
scenario described include amongst others; the distance of any potential fall and its
consequences, the frequency of the maintenance work and its likely duration, the
number and experience of the persons to be involved and the tools and equipment
they might carry and the effectiveness of the control measures currently in place.
Many candidates are often unsure as to what is required in answer to this part of the
question and identify the precautions to be taken rather than the factors to be
considered in assessing the risk from working at height.
To reduce the risks from working at height, consideration should first be given to the
creation of a permanent workplace such as a fixed gantry. If this is not possible, then
a scaffold, MEWP or ladder would be used and since this is an outline question,
candidates are expected to detail in each case the required safeguards to prevent
falls. As well as reducing the risks for persons carrying out the maintenance work, the
safety of persons working below would also be considered both by taking precautions
to prevent the fall of materials or tools from the working area and by preventing
access to the area immediately below the machine. To obtain the marks available,
candidates are again expected to give details of how these precautions would be
achieved. Answers to this part of the question are generally to a reasonable standard
although in many cases insufficient detail is given to satisfy the outline command.
There are also several candidates who, despite the wording of the question, suggest
that the work should be carried out at ground level.
For part (c), candidates should outline additional control measures such as carrying
out the maintenance outside normal working hours; isolating and locking off the power
supply to the machine; allowing time for moving parts to stop and hot parts to cool;
and releasing any stored energy or pressure. Candidates should also address issues
such as the competence of the workforce, the type of information that should be given
to them and the personal protective equipment that should be provided, again in each
case giving relevant examples.
There are a number of candidates who seem to miss the transition in the question
from work at height to maintenance of machinery and identify additional or
occasionally identical control measures for working at height. There are not too many
who are able to suggest adequate control measures to ensure safe maintenance and
rely on general references to the provision of barriers, signs and training.

Question 2

Outline hazards associated with the use of a powered materials hoist in


a workplace.

(8)

Candidates might consider the hazards under their respective causes such as those
directly associated with the hoist itself, ie its incorrect or incompetent assembly, its
power source giving relevant examples, its inadequate braking system and its controls
which might be inaccessible or defective. There would then be those associated with
the hoist way and carrier which might not be sufficiently enclosed with the possibility
that employees could fall down the hoist way or be struck by moving parts of the hoist.
Finally reference could be made to hazards caused by the operation of the hoist
when, for example, it is overloaded or the load is not secured or unevenly distributed
on the carrier.
This question is often poorly answered and it is apparent that there are many
candidates who are not familiar with a powered materials hoist, often relating their
responses to a crane or a forklift truck. Few can offer little beyond contact with moving
parts of the hoist, those associated with falling loads and those arising from contact
with electricity.

Question 3

Large sheets of wood are cut to size in a workshop using a powered


mechanical saw. The cut sheets are then joined together using a solvent
based adhesive.
(a)

(b)

Outline factors to consider when undertaking an assessment of


the health risks associated with exposure to wood dust and the
adhesive.

(4)

Outline control measures that could be taken to reduce risks to


the health of workers from exposure to wood dust and the
adhesive.

(4)

For part (a), candidates are expected to outline factors such as the hazardous nature
of the materials, their possible routes of entry to the body and any relevant exposure
limits. Consideration should also be given to factors such as the quantity of materials
used or produced, the likely duration and frequency of exposure, the number and
types of persons who would be exposed and the effectiveness of the existing control
measures. Answers to this part of the question are often disappointing with few able to
provide an adequate outline of the factors to be considered when carrying out an
assessment of health risks.
For part (b), candidates might follow the hierarchy of control and refer for example, to
the possibility of substituting the adhesive with one that is solvent free; segregating
the processes such as by cutting the wood and applying the adhesive in booths fitted
with local exhaust ventilation; reducing the frequency and duration of exposure by the
use of job rotation and using respiratory and other personal protective equipment.
Answers to this part of the question are usually to a reasonable standard although
some candidates appear to experience difficulty in dealing with issues arising from the
use of two different materials. There are general references to substitution, ventilation
and personal protective equipment but, as is often the case, without sufficient
supporting detail which is imperative in an outline question. Some candidates
suggest health surveillance as a possible control measure, although while this does
confirm a level of risk, it does nothing to reduce it. This is yet another question where
some candidates did not give sufficient attention to its wording and wrote of safety
issues when risks to health is clearly stated.

Question 4

(a)
(b)

Identify ways a driver may be injured whilst driving a forklift


truck.

(3)

Outline features of a forklift truck that could reduce the risk of a


driver being injured.

(5)

Most candidates are able to identify that the driver of a forklift truck might suffer injury
as a result of a collision, through overturning of the truck, by falling out of the truck
possibly when driving over rough ground or by being struck by falling objects. Whole
body vibration is given as an answer by some candidates but as the question refers to
injury, this and other ill-health effects are outside of the scope of the question.
Having identified the hazards, candidates should then outline measures to reduce the
risk of injury such as by the provision of a fixed and secure seat with belts or
restraints, roll-over protection and protection against falling objects. Additionally the
trucks brakes, lights and mirrors should be kept in good condition and its tyres
maintained at the correct pressure. Answers are usually to a reasonable standard
although some candidates discuss the environment in which the truck is working
rather than features associated with the truck itself and offer workplace and procedural
controls such as road maintenance and the provision of one way systems.

Question 5

Identify hazards associated with excavations.

(8)

In answering this question, candidates are expected to identify the hazards associated
with excavation work such as, for example, the collapse of the sides of the excavation;
falls of persons or materials into an unprotected excavation; hazards associated with
plant, machinery and vehicles used in connection with the work; the effect of the
excavation work on adjacent structures; and the possibility of contact with buried
services such as electricity or gas or with contaminated land.
This is generally a well answered question although some candidates do confuse
hazards and risks whilst others identify control measures rather than the required
hazards. This is possibly as a result of a failure to read the question with sufficient
care which probably accounts for answers such as relating to hazards in the use of an
excavator and those connected with evacuation.

Question 6

Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs) are set for hazardous substances.


(a)

Outline the purpose of a workplace exposure limit (WEL).

(b)

Identify the reference time period for:

(c)

(4)

(i)

short term exposure limit (STEL);

(1)

(ii)

long term exposure limit (LTEL).

(1)

Identify TWO classifications of hazardous substances where


exposure must be reduced to as low as reasonably practicable
below the WEL.

(2)

The purpose of a workplace exposure limit is to protect workers from the risk of
inhalation of dangerous substances where exposure cannot be avoided. The WEL
sets a concentration of a substance in air over a reference period which should not be
exceeded. Candidates generally demonstrate a limited understanding of the purpose

of a WEL and offer little more than the provision of protection for the health of workers
and seeing it as a time limit that should not be exceeded.
Most candidates, however, are able to identify the correct reference time periods
although there are a few who suggest periods from minutes to days.
For part (c), candidates could identify carcinogens, respiratory sensitisers and
mutagenic substances.

Question 7

Outline the precautions that should be included in a safe system for work
on a UK mains (230V) electrical circuit.

(8)

An essential precaution would be to switch off the current from the circuit, isolate and
lock off the supply to prevent re-connection and test the circuit to ensure that it is
dead. It would be important to have good lighting and sufficient space round the
working area which should be segregated by the provision of barriers where possible.
Candidates should then identify the importance of using competent workers and refer
to the type of tools, test equipment and protective clothing that would be used.
Reference should also be made to the precautions that should be put in place to deal
with any emergency that might occur.
This question is generally not well answered and many candidates miss the point that
it deals with work on a UK mains circuit. Some discuss precautions to be taken when
high voltage work is undertaken while others give answers relating to portable
electrical equipment. Those who do understand what is required are often unable to
offer precautions other than isolating the supply and using competent personnel.

Question 8

(a)

(b)

Outline defective conditions of non-powered hand tools that


could present risks to the user.

(5)

Outline the requirements for the safe use of non-powered hand


tools.

(3)

In answering the first part of the question, candidates could outline defective
conditions such as split or broken shafts or loose heads giving examples of the tools
on which these faults might be found; burred or mushroomed heads on chisels and
blunt blades on saws or knives; bent spanners or spanners with splayed jaws; and
tools which had corroded.
For part (b), candidates are expected to outline requirements for the safe use of nonpowered hand tools such as selecting the appropriate or suitable tool for the task and
ensuring that all tools are regularly inspected and maintained on a routine basis and
replacing those that are found to be defective. Additional requirements would include
the provision of adequate storage facilities for the tools and training the employees in
their safe use and inspection.
Most candidates provide answers to a reasonable standard although a few, despite
the wording of the question, write about powered tools and the electrical hazards
involved.

Question 9

Identify factors to consider in order that persons can safely evacuate a


workplace in the event of a fire.

(8)

A good answer would include reference to factors such as the number of employees
to be evacuated and thus the number of exit routes required with the provision of
alternative routes where possible; and the travel distances involved, with all escape
routes protected with fire resistant materials and fire doors and leading to a final exit,
the door of which should open quickly and easily and preferably outwards giving
access to a place of safety and/or to an assembly point.
Additional factors which could be identified include the provision of adequate signage
for and emergency lighting along exit routes and the location of fire fighting
equipment; the need to appoint responsible persons such as fire marshals and the
importance of holding fire drills; and the means for raising the alarm which should
have sufficient call points and be audible throughout the premises.
If there is a fault it is that some candidates waste time in dealing at length with a small
number of factors despite the fact that this is an identify question while a few identify
factors to be considered when carrying out a fire risk assessment.

Question 10

In order to minimise the risk of injury when undertaking manual handling


operations:
(a)

(b)

identify FOUR types of manually operated load handling aids or


equipment that can be used to assist manual handling
operations;

(4)

other than using manually operated load handling aids or


equipment, outline ways to reduce the risks that could be
presented by the load.

(4)

In answer to part (a) of the question, candidates should identify four manually operated
load handling devices such as different types of trucks, barrows and conveyors and
devices such as hooks or suction pads.
Those who do not pay sufficient attention to the wording of the question identify powered
equipment such as fork lift trucks and cranes.
For part (b), candidates are expected to outline ways of reducing the risks that could be
presented by the load such as, for example, making it lighter by splitting it; marking its
weight; indicating its centre of gravity; providing handles for the load; and covering or
removing sharp edges. Again a failure to read the question with sufficient care often
results in many candidates wasting time by dealing with factors other than the load.

Question 11

Other than those associated with the physical environment, outline


possible work-related causes of increased stress levels amongst
employees.

(8)

In answer to this question, possible causes of increased stress levels could usefully be
divided into those relating to the job or task, those relating to workplace relationships
and those which might be classed as external.

Causes relating to the job would include, for example, issues such as work load or
work patterns; a lack of understanding of the requirements of the job with no
information provided by the employer; a lack of control either over the way the work is
done or when breaks might be taken; and job insecurity and the fear of redundancy
particularly at times of organisational change.
As for relationships, examples could include the level and sufficiency of supervision
and relationships with fellow employees that might involve bullying and harassment
while in outlining external factors, candidates could refer to issues such as illness and
financial and family problems.
Answers to this question are often disappointing and there are few candidates who
show much familiarity with HSE stress management standards. There is a tendency to
submit lists rather than outlines and despite the wording of the question, some refer to
environmental issues such as noise and temperature. Some candidates do not
attempt the question.

10

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
email info@nebosh.org.uk
www.nebosh.org.uk