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Example question

paper and Examiners’

feedback on expected
answers (IA)
Example question paper and
Examiners’ feedback on
expected answers





Introduction 2

General comments 3

Comments on individual questions 5

 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 50,000 candidates annually and are offered
by over 600 course providers, with exams taken in over 120 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 2015

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

Some 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 other 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 International
Diploma 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 IA and tutor reference documents for each

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

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

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
 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 ‘outline’ 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

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

Failing to read the question/memorising answers

 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 which can significantly impact on the likelihood of achieving the
pass standard.

Other weaknesses observed

 Candidates should be aware of the need to make their handwriting as legible as possible.
 Candidates should note that it is not necessary to start a new page in their answer booklet for
each section of a question.
 Candidates do not need to write the question out before answering it, they just need to
indicate in the top right hand corner of the page which question is being answered. In some
cases valuable time is lost doing this rather than focusing on the answer needed.

UNIT IA – International management of health and safety

Section A – all questions compulsory

Question 1 ‘Perception’ may be defined as the process by which individuals interpret

information that they have taken in through their senses. Sensory inputs
may be affected by the workplace, resulting in a distorted perception of

Outline FIVE types of sensory input AND give examples of how EACH
may be impaired in the workplace. (10)

Candidates were expected to demonstrate an understanding of the concept of

perception in relation to sensory inputs and how perception of risk may be affected by
the workplace.

Candidates were expected to give the Examiner an outline of the senses and
consequently how they may be affected by the workplace, eg sight sensory
perception of light that can be affected by workplace lighting or glare, or the use of
PPE; sensory perception of sound that may be affected by noise in the workplace.

Candidates were expected to offer similar information in relation to touch, smell, taste
and proprioception (internal sensory perception such as dizziness and limb position).

While many candidates provided the senses, few were able to make the connection
between the workplace and the senses. In many instances candidates referred to
sensory perception, eg hearing and sound, and then made reference to hearing
defects such as deafness. This type of answer did not gain good marks as the
Examiner was looking for the link between the sense and the workplace causing
interference with the sense.

Question 2 An organisation has a poor record of health and safety performance. The
health and safety manager is leading an initiative to create a positive
health and safety culture in the organisation.

(a) Outline actions that the health and safety manager could take in
order to promote a positive health and safety culture. (5)

(b) Describe how the health and safety manager could demonstrate
positive cultural change to the organisational management team. (5)

Candidates were expected to convey an understanding of the promotion and

demonstration of health and safety culture and climate.

In part (a) candidates could have referred to actions such as developing management
commitment, through training, leading by example, providing regular information
updates and providing training events that can be used to develop competence in
health and safety. Other actions may have included setting targets and monitoring

In part (b) candidates were expected to describe how cultural change could be
demonstrated through measures such as culture and climate assessment tools,
perception surveys and attitude surveys to show changes in perceptions and attitudes.
Also, by demonstrating improvements in health and safety performance using both
active and reactive measures.

To gain good marks candidates were expected to offer the Examiner a good range of
opportunities to award marks in each part of the question. However, it appeared that
many candidates did not have a detailed grasp of the actions or measures that are
required in relation to cultural development and monitoring.

Question 3 Explain the limitations of relying solely on accident numbers as a

measure of health and safety performance. (10)

Monitoring health and safety performance requires the application of several

measures that reflect both active and reactive measures. Candidates should be able
to explain the benefits and limitations of the different types of measures that can be
used in the workplace to measure and demonstrate health and safety performance.

Candidates were expected to ensure that they expressed to the Examiner why relying
solely on accident numbers limited the understanding of health and safety
performance. To gain good marks candidates could have referred to factors such as
under reporting of accidents, few accidents occurring in a low risk business would not
necessarily indicate performance, accident numbers do not account for factors such
as ill health, near misses, severity or frequency. Without knowing the reason for
accidents, improvements in performance cannot be measured.

It would also infer an acceptance of accidents, as well as the data in relation to

accidents occurring, being historical.

Question 4 (a) A mixing vessel that contains solvent and product ingredients
must be thoroughly cleaned every two days for process reasons.
Cleaning requires an operator to enter the vessel, for which a
permit-to-work is required.
During a recent audit of permit records it has been discovered
that many permits have not been completed correctly or have not
been signed on completion.

Outline possible reasons why the permit-to-work system is not

being followed correctly. (5)

(b) An organisation operating the same process has demonstrated

that the vessel can be cleaned by installing fixed, high pressure
spray equipment inside the vessel which would eliminate the
need for vessel entry.

The health and safety manager wants to adopt this system for
safety reasons but the Board has requested a cost- benefit
analysis of the proposal.

Outline the principles of cost-benefit analysis in such

circumstances. (5)

Detailed discussion of individual cost elements is not required.

This question assesses a common area in health and safety, namely that of permits-
to-work and justifying control measures in an organisation.

In part (a) candidates could have referred to matters such as competency of persons
involved in either issuing or receiving the permits, as well as other influences such as
lack of supervision and perceived importance of the permit-to-work system along with
a poor safety culture.

In part (b) candidates were expected to demonstrate knowledge of the principles of

cost benefit analysis without having to cost the individual elements of the control
measure or benefits expected. However, candidates were expected to offer
information such as costs included both capital and ongoing costs, and benefits would
also need to be quantified in monetary terms that would then allow a comparison to be
made in order to justify the introduction of the control measure.

Most candidates were able to provide reasonable answers in relation to the permit-to-
work but had difficulty in explaining cost-benefit analysis.

Question 5 Health and safety management includes moral, legal and economic
(financial) reasoning.

(a) Explain the meaning of ‘moral’ in this context. (4)

(b) Outline positive effects of a moral-based approach to health and

safety management. (6)

This question sought to assess candidates’ understanding of the reasons for

managing health and safety from a moral point of view. Despite the question being
specific to the moral reasons there were candidates who sought to offer legal and
financial motivators for managing health and safety. To gain good marks in part (a)
candidates could have offered an understanding of moral reasons such as managing
health and safety being the right thing to do, that employers have a duty of care to
workers and society generally, as well as preventing major industrial disasters.

Part (b) was looking for candidates to express the effects of the moral-based
approach on the workers and the workplace generally. Answers could have included
improved worker morale through ownership, improved worker commitment, worker
self-esteem and value leading to a good culture which motivates the workers. While
there is no exhaustive list of consequences few candidates seemed to get the
connection of valuing workers and resultant outcomes.

Question 6 (a) Outline what is meant by punitive damages in relation to a

compensation award, clearly stating their purpose AND identify
to whom the damages are paid. (5)

(b) In relation to a claim for compensation, outline the meaning of

the terms:

(i) no fault liability; (2)

(ii) breach of duty of care. (3)

In order to gain good marks in part (a) candidates were expected to make the point
that punitive damages are a monetary award that represents financial punishment for
wrong doing. The level is set by the court and is paid to the claimant not the state.

Part (b) required a simple factual outline of the terms ‘no fault liability’ and ‘breach of
duty of care’. Most candidates seemed well versed with the terms.

Section B – three from five questions to be attempted

Question 7 Outline the benefits of:

(a) an integrated health and safety, environmental, and quality

management system; (10)

(b) separate health and safety, environmental, and quality

management systems. (10)

In part (a) candidates could have gained marks by referring to benefits such as
consistency of terminology, avoiding procedural duplication as well as in costs of
auditing. Additional benefits of integration could have included avoidance of narrow
decision making, improved management decision making, effective use of resources
and developments in the various areas having knock-on benefits.

In part (b) candidates could have referred to benefits under a separate regime such as
different systems operate to different standards and therefore should not be treated
the same but allowed to develop and reflect the complexity of each of the individual
subject areas. Other areas of benefit relate to the technical accuracy required for both
management of the systems and auditing the systems. Finally, failure in one system
or deteriorating system does not necessarily affect the other systems, although
lessons can be learned.

This question proved popular with candidates and many of those who opted to answer
it performed well.

Question 8 (a) Outline the principles, application and limitations of event tree
analysis as a risk assessment technique. (6)

(b) A mainframe computer suite has a protective system to limit the

effects of fire. The system comprises a smoke detector
connected by a power supply to a mechanism for releasing
extinguishing gas.
It has been estimated that a fire will occur once every five years

Reliability data for the system components are as follows:

Component Reliability
Detector 0.90
Power supply 0.99
Extinguishing gas release mechanism 0.95

(i) Using the data above and in the form of an event tree,
calculate the frequency of an uncontrolled fire in the
computer suite. (10)
(ii) Identify ways in which the reliability of the system could
be improved. (4)

The application of advanced risk assessment methodologies is a useful tool for

practitioners. It is therefore important that students of health and safety understand
the principles of operation as well as the ability to calculate outcomes.

In part (a) candidates could have gained marks by outlining that event tree analysis is
based on binary logic from a starting event and ends with the probability of a
controlled situation or otherwise. It is used to assess the likely outcomes and
performance of mitigation measures and is limited by a lack of accurate data and
inability to account for partial success of components or mitigation measures.

Part (b) (i) required the following tree:

detector power gas SUCCESS

p (success) = 0.2 - 0.031 = 0.169
Fire 0.05
0.2 x 0.9 x 0.99 x 0.05 = 0.009
f=0.2/yr 0.01
0.2 x 0.9 x 0.01 =0.002
0.2 x 0.1 = 0.02

p (failure) = 0.009 + 0.002 + 0.02 = 0.031 per year

f = once every 32 yrs

Marks were awarded for the correct tree structure and accurate calculations.
Candidates are required to provide their working in order to achieve the full marks

In part (b) (ii) reference to more reliable components, parallel systems and active
redundancy along with maintenance and testing would have achieved good marks.

Question 9 The health and safety adviser to a large organisation has decided to
introduce an in-house auditing programme to assess the effectiveness of
the organisation’s health and safety management arrangements.

Outline issues that should be considered when developing the audit

programme. (20)

This question sought to assess candidates’ knowledge of the preparatory work

required in order to set up an audit system that would provide useful information about
the organisational health and safety management arrangements.

In answering the questions candidates would have been well advised to spend a few
minutes preparing their answer to ensure that they gave good coverage to a wide
range of issues in order to gain good marks. In order to develop the programme the
practitioners would need to consider issues such as gaining management support and
company-wide support for the audit. The next stage of developing the audit would be
to consider and plan the scope and nature of the audit, considering likely frequency of
audits and what comparative standards could be used in the audit process.
Consideration of specific audit content should be addressed, taking into account such
details as auditing techniques to be used (interviews and provision of feedback and
follow up actions), scoring system, use of software, vertical and horizontal slice, etc.

Candidates needed to consider the audit team in terms of competency and

independence; planning for a pilot, review and launch including how to communicate
the findings; as well as setting future targets.

Question 10 A forklift truck is used to move loaded pallets in a large distribution

warehouse. On one particular occasion the truck skidded on a patch of
oil. As a consequence, the truck collided with an unaccompanied visitor
and crushed the visitor’s leg.

(a) Outline why the accident should be investigated. (4)

(b) The initial responses of reporting and securing the scene of the
accident have been carried out.

Outline actions that should be taken in order to collect evidence

for an investigation of the accident. (8)

(c) The investigation reveals that there have been previous skidding
incidents which had not been reported and the organisation
therefore decides to introduce a formal system for reporting ‘near
miss’ incidents.

Outline factors that should be considered when developing and

implementing such a system. (8)

This question was the more popular of the optional questions in Section B and was
well answered by many candidates who showed a good level of knowledge in this
area of the syllabus.

In answering part (a) there were a number of options that would have collected marks
including gathering information for legal reason such as defence to proceedings,
identifying causes, preventing a recurrence and meeting moral obligations.

Part (b) sought knowledge of the process of gathering evidence. Candidates who
tried to follow a time line of evidence tended to gain good marks in this section.
Actions could have included, reviewing CCTV, examining the condition of the FLT,
checking relevant records (it is important to tell the Examiner which records are
relevant in order to earn the marks), interviewing relevant persons and completing any
necessary drug or alcohol testing.

Developing and implementing a system of near miss reporting would require

establishing the scope of the system, eg defining the terms, consultation, information
and training for workers, making the system easy to use, establishing responsibilities
for managing the system, consideration of costing implications, analysing the data
over time to measure performance and perhaps some form of incentives for reporting.
These are some of the points that would be appropriate to consider in this question.

This area of the syllabus of loss causation and incident investigation is an important
area of knowledge for health and safety professionals. Candidates should be
prepared to give detailed responses to a range of scenarios that may be presented so
they demonstrate their knowledge in this area.

Question 11 Extensive repair work is needed to the roof of the main production area of
a large factory. The factory is to remain fully operational during the work.

(a) Identify the criteria that might be used when selecting a

contractor for the work in order to ensure that they have the
necessary competence in health and safety. (8)

(b) Identify ways in which the factory management should control

the work of the contractor in order to ensure that risks to factory
workers are minimised. (12)

Contractor selection and management is a common area of work for the health and
safety practitioner and this question gave candidates the opportunity to show their
knowledge of this important area of health and safety management. The question
proved quite popular and was handled well by most candidates.

In selecting contractors, criteria could include health and safety policy, method
statements, previous performance, worker qualification, reputation, experience,
resource arrangements and insurance. These points represent examples of mark-
worthy criteria in the context of the question, it is not an exhaustive list of criteria for
which marks could be awarded.

In part (b) of the question candidates were required to identify ways that the
contractor’s work could be controlled by the client and could have included points such
as agreed timescales, PTW arrangements, checking risk assessments and other
control documents, detailed requirements of induction and access and egress
controls, housekeeping arrangements, communication and consultation
arrangements, etc.

Again, this is not an exhaustive list of mark-worthy points but examples of the type of
issue that would earn marks in this question.

Candidates are advised that while there is a level of detail required in such a question
they should be guided by the command word, in this case identify. Candidates were
expected to provide a broad range of issues in the context of the question to gain
good marks and not dwell on a single point such as risk assessments.

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