What mistakes can I make when completing my NG2 or IG2 (NEBOSH Practical Project)?
Well, some of you will be getting ready for the NEBOSH General Certificate practical project called the NG2 (or the IG2 if you’re outside of the UK). And I’ve said this a few times before, this practical project is harder than the exam. All you have to do is fail to meet just one of the criteria and you’ll fail, and you’ll have to change and resubmit your practical project and hopefully pass on the second attempt.
I’m going to run you through a list of reasons why students fail.
Sometimes it can be just one word which literally means the difference between passing and failing. And if you make one of these mistakes and fail, you will be so frustrated. So let me run you through these.
Mistake 1 – Failing to fill in all of the boxes.
Yes, some students do fail to put in a time scale sometimes or an action owner. They fail to put something in a box, and as a result, one of the criteria is not met.
Mistake 2 – Not paying attention to the bullet pointed information on the left hand side of the practical project template.
The bullet points tell you exactly what information you need to write in there. And if you don’t pay attention to that, there is a chance that you will miss a key piece of information. And again, fail your project.
Mistake 3 – Failing to explain how you identified the existing controls in the methodology.
Usually there’s some kind of focus on the further controls, the additional controls. But people don’t explain how they identified the existing controls.
How do you identify existing controls?
Well, usually by having a look to begin with, you walk around. You look, you examine and you ask questions. You ask the people who do the tasks what they do to stay safe. You may also want to consider looking at SOPs the statements and then you have documentation you already have.
Mistake 4 – Failing to explain how you identify the further controls.
So people might explain that they looked around, ask questions, checked the SOPs, but then they don’t explain where they got their recommendations from. And this requires a reference to guidance documents or Approved Codes of Practice (ACOPs). And you would probably need to write something along the lines of: I identified the further controls by comparing what we currently do to what is required in these guidance documents and chose the guidance documents carefully.
Mistake 5 – Failing to identify 10 different hazards.
Often people put 10 hazards, but 2 of the hazards are actually duplicates.
For example, if you had some kind of job which required use of stepladders. And you had 2 different activities requiring use of the step ladder. If you put those down as 2 different hazards, you’re probably going to fail because it doesn’t matter what the job is, using the step ladder is the hazard. Even though you’ve put it in 2 different rows, it’s still the same hazard, and the examiner will count it as 1 hazard instead of 2.
And if you’ve only got 10 hazards and your examiner says: actually 2 of those are a duplicate. In fact, you’ve only got 9 hazards, and therefore you fail.
Mistake 6 – Failure to have at least 5 ‘Hazard Categories’.
Look at the elements from the syllabus very carefully. Understand that, for example, Element 5, noise, vibration, radiation, psychological, mental health and all of that, that’s all 1 hazard category. And so you have to choose a variety of hazards spread out across 5 elements, at least.
For example: 1 from Element 5, 2 from Element 6, 1 from Element 7, 1 from Element 8 and so on.
Mistake 7 – Being too vague on the injuries.
For example, if you had someone working on an office stepladder and you said they could fall and hurt themselves, that’s probably going to result in the fail, it’s important on the risk assessment that you are specific in: how might people be harmed.
You have to write down the nature of the injury and not just write down something like, they could hurt themselves. They could injure themselves. That’s not good enough.
Mistake 8 – Failure to write down control measures that are legally required.
So your risk assessment has to be sufficient. That means it has to identify risk controls that are required by law at the bare minimum, the risk assessment has to bring you into compliance with the relevant legislation.
So, for example, some controls are just required by law. If you had local exhaust ventilation, then under the COSHH regulations, you are required to get that thoroughly examined every 14 months. If you’ve got LEV and you don’t write down in your existing controls or in your further controls that it requires 14 months for examination. That’s a fail. Same thing for forklifts and cranes. You need LOLER inspections. But also things like training. If you’ve got an electrical hazard, you need some training. That’s a legal requirement.
You need some PAT testing. Though that’s not a legal requirement, it is required in the guidance, and the guidance is an industry standard. You have to do the PAT testing.
So I would recommend you go through your course materials with a fine comb. Look at all of the different control measures which you can use to control the hazards and use that like a menu and ask yourself, which of these are required.
Mistake 9 – Failing to write down an owner and a timescale for every single action.
For instance, you’ve got 5 actions against a particular hazard. And each one of those needs a time scale and an action owner.
Mistake 10 – Choosing actions that are not actions.
Those priority actions have to be specific. For example, don’t put down things like: improve the safety of the workshop. That’s not an action. Think about what the actions are that you need to take to improve the safety of the workshop.
Improve levels of stress. That’s a little bit more specific, but doesn’t tell me what I need to do to improve the level of stress.
Do a manual handling risk assessment. Now that’s an action, I suppose, but it’s not an action which reduces risk. You’re just assessing the risk. And so what are the changes to the manual handling activity? Install LEV. Issue safety gloves. Deliver a particular type of training. Those are specific actions which we need.
Mistake 11 – Failing to include the legal, moral and financial arguments.
Failing to include both the criminal and the civil consequences of failing to control the risk. Students usually put down the criminal stuff, the improvement notices, the prosecutions, the fines, but often they fail to mention the civil claims. That is a legal consequence. In the specific legal arguments, students are usually very good at putting down a law that is being broken, but failing to explain why that law is being broken.
For example, if you had say you’re breaking the work at height regulations because there was a lack of a guardrail, you wouldn’t just say you’re in breach of the work at height regulations. You would have to say you are in breach of the work at height regulations because they require that you prevent falls by guarding the edge of the pit excavation.
Or, failing to guard the edge of the roof could be considered a breach of that requirement.
Mistake 12 – Likelihood and severity.
Too much focus on risk ratings. Students might write down a likelihood of 4 out of 5, and a severity of 3 out of 5, and whether the risk is a medium or high. We’re not interested in risk ratings. What we’re interested in is an explanation of what makes an injury likely or unlikely. So you could talk about the duration of exposure. You could talk about the number of people involved or people involved. It is more likely that one of them is going to get hurt? You’ll talk about the frequency of exposure and so.
And then as for the consequence or the severity, you would talk about the injury. The nature of the injuries that could be sustained if they did have an incident.
Mistake 13 – Expressing doubts over whether the actions you’re recommending will actually control the risk.
That’s an immediate fail.
If you’re in doubt that it controls the risk, then go back and choose a different action which can improve that action in some way.
You have to be able to say this action is going to fully control the risk or it’s going to reduce the risk down, so far as is reasonably practicable. It’s okay to point out certain gaps or failures.
For example, you could introduce some LEV, and it’s okay to point out that for the LEV to fully control the risk, we also have to maintain it, check it, inspect it and all of those things. And so there are some procedures that are associated with the LEV.
The LEV won’t fix it. We have to all the administrative controls as well. That’s okay. But don’t just put the LEV and then wait to see if that works or not.
Mistake 14 – Failing to write down a specific review date.
Many students write down the date in the month, but not the year.
Please write down the date in full with the year.
Mistake 15 – Choosing a contradictive review date.
And choose a review date that doesn’t contradict something else you’ve previously said. So, if you’ve said that the standard review period in your organisation is every twelve months, then choose a review date that is in twelve months.
Don’t say: review risk assessment every twelve months. But given the risks are high, we’ll review this one in 3 months on the 5 July or something like that. I’ve known at least one person fail because of the contradiction between the 2 dates.
So there we are.
If you know of any other silly mistakes to avoid, please let me know, you can send me an email: email@example.com.
And if you’ve got any questions about the NG or the IG, please feel free to ask me to email me also.
Have a lovely day.