How to successfully complete the NEBOSH Risk Assessment Project – Get it right, first time!

Column 1

The second part of the Nebosh risk assessment project is filling out the risk assessment table, of which there are six columns.

Column one is the hazard and the hazard category. There is nothing else you need to include in this column, just those two things. For the hazard category, choose from the list of hazards within each of the seven element headings, not the actual element headings, for example, don’t put Physical and Psychological Health down as a hazard category, but instead, select one of the hazards categories covered within that element, such as noise, vibration, radiation, mental ill-health, violence, substance abuse.

Then, for the hazard it’s something with the potential to cause harm from within whatever hazard category you’re doing. Nothing overly-complicated is necessary, just a simple description of the hazard so that the examiner has a clear idea of what’s going on – absolutely no industry specific jargon or abbreviations. The example that Nebosh give is:

Hazard Category: Vibration

Hazard: Sanding and grinding activities

That might be ok for a minimum pass standard, but I would hope any learner studying with Stockwell Safety would have their sights set rather higher. So to improve on that example, I would suggest being a bit more helpful with the description of the hazard. The hazard category is fine as it is as it’s taken directly from the syllabus, but I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to actually state what sanding and grinding activities, for example – using a hand-held orbital sander to prepare bodywork panels for spray painting.

Column 2

For the 2nd column, the who might be harmed part should be straightforward enough – you’re not listing individuals by name, but categories of people, such as people working in the workshop area, or, drivers making deliveries to the warehouse.

For the ‘how’ part – describe the harm on a very simple and practical level. Is it a physical injury like a cut, or if it’s more of a health hazard it could be an infection, for example asbestos causing lung cancer. Then describe the circumstances by which that harm might be caused. The example that Nebosh provide is “Excessive use of or use of faulty hand-held tools such as disc cutters, sanders and grinders could lead to hand-arm-vibration (HAV) conditions such as vibration white finger”.

In the example, the harm is described (VWF) along with the circumstances leading to it (excessive use of faulty tools).

Columns 3 & 4

These two columns work together. In a previous version of the course, there was a requirement for learners to identify at least 20 uncontrolled hazards, which was problematic in many cases. In the current version though you are free to consider hazards that might be being very well controlled, in which case, you should list those controls in column three. Any additional controls that you could put in place to reduce the risk even further go into column 4.

There are no hard and fast rules about how many you need in each column but what is important is that you do not leave a column empty, even if there are no controls or additional controls you want to list in that column. If this is the case, just put “not applicable”. DO NOT NEGLECT TO DO THIS. Nebosh has stated in their guidance that this is important and has been referring learners for leaving blank columns. This is such a simple and easy thing to not get wrong, so please don’t be one of the learners who get it wrong and have to resubmit.

Column 5

Some advice I would have with the timescales is to ensure that they are realistic. For example, if one of your controls is to unblock a fire exit, you’ll fail to gain marks for putting a timescale of a month against it, similarly, if another of your controls is to set up a health surveillance programme across the company, using third party external contractors to conduct and report on the health surveillance tests, a week would not be a realistic timescale for something like that.

This links in with the other bit of advice I have with regard to timescales, and that is to have a good range of different timescales, ie. some short term timescales and some long term timescales too. This helps to demonstrate your grasp of the concept of the different types of potential causal factors of unsafe acts or conditions. Some casual factors are more immediate and it tends to be the case that controlling these will be quicker than more underlying and root causal factors, which might require more a more long-term view when it comes to suitable controls as they are more likely to involve things like changes to policies, processes or procedures. If all your timescales are short-term ones, it may come across as though you don’t understand the underlying and root causes of health and safety issues, which is a major part of the syllabus.

Column 6

The only thing I have to say with this column is to keep it simple and just input the job title of the person who it is envisaged would actually be the person who would put the particular control into place.

Don’t go down some rabbit hole of who would be the legal duty holder with ultimate accountability for health and safety under this or that piece of legislation etc. etc.

Keep it nice and simple and practical.