The NEBOSH Incident Investigation Award vs. the NEBOSH General Certificate

What's the Difference Between the NEBOSH Incident Investigation Award and the NEBOSH General Certificate?

Date Posted: 17th September 2021

What’s the difference between the NEBOSH Incident Investigation Award and the NEBOSH General Certificate?

The NEBOSH HSE Incident Investigation vs. the NEBOSH General Certificate.

The NEBOSH HSE Introduction to Incident Investigation Award, that’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it?

Where does this qualification fit in with the other NEBOSH qualifications? Who should do it? What’s in it? Why should you do it? Is it for everybody? And more importantly, where should you do it? Who’s delivering it? How do you get it? And so on?

Well, it’s a level two qualification, which officially means that it’s below the NGC (NEBOSH General Certificate) which is a level three certificate. However, that being said, it’s a lot more specialised than the General Certificate.

I mean, the key word there being ‘general’, this qualification specialises in incident investigation. And whilst it’s an entry level qualification, only an award, it actually has a lot more detail about incident investigation than its higher level, the General Certificate. It has a tonne of information which just isn’t covered in a certificate whatsoever. So it’s kind of a specialist qualification.

NEBOSH say it’s entry level. They say it’s targeted at frontline people who are involved in investigations, like managers, supervisors, team leaders, maybe safety reps. And they specifically say that it’s not really for established, experienced health and safety professionals. And that being said, I kind of disagree. To some extent, I think it might benefit some established health and safety professionals.

In theory, it really shouldn’t, in theory, someone with a Diploma who is a Charted Member and so on shouldn’t really need this qualification. And there will be a lot of information in it, which they already know. But there’s a big ‘BUT’, a lot of health and safe professionals don’t really have a lot of experience in incident investigation. And in fact, even if they do have a lot of experience, they may have a lot of bad habits.

I remember one guy in a previous organisation I worked for, and he used to be quite the bully in incident investigations. He used to accuse people of being liars. He used say things like: “if I catch you lying, I will assume everything you say is a lie”. And once, he was telling me that he sent somebody out of the room and said: “you better have a long, hard think about what you’re going to say next”.

These types of behaviours might be useful in a minority of situations, but generally speaking, they’re counterproductive in incident investigations, and this is the sort of stuff that this course gets into. It starts off with some basics, like the reasons why we investigate incidents. What are the legal, moral and financial consequences of incidents and why do we investigate near misses and so on?

That’s basic stuff you’ll cover out on an IOSH Managing Safely course usually, but it’s a really good refresher for the team leaders and supervisors etc who are maybe doing this training. It repeats what they might already know, and it sinks in a bit more.

It goes into the human factors, the organisational factors, job factors, individual factors which contribute to incidents. And even some health and safety professionals sometimes don’t really get this. It’s kind of an abstract topic on the health and safety qualifications, and it’s a good refresher even for the health and safety people. And it’s very good information for the frontline supervisors to kind of have an awareness that it’s not just about an individuals fault. It’s about the job, the equipment, the workplace, the organiser, the leadership of the culture and so on.

It goes into a lot of detail on mistakes, slips, lapses, violations and human error. And actually that’s not on the NEBOSH General Certificate, at least not anymore. That’s kind of Diploma level knowledge.

Then it moves on into the steps to an incident investigation, which is: gather the information, analyse the information, identify risk control measures and the actions plan and its implementation. But it also covers what a good incident investigation looks like, and what the barriers are to a good incident investigation.

And again, this is information which isn’t really presented in any great depth on a NEBOSH General certificate. It goes into the 5 Whys Analysis quite well. The IOSH Managing Safely course actually does have a bit of information on 5 Whys Analysis. There’s a whole exercise and 5 Whys Analysis, but in the NEBOSH General certificate there’s not really any room for any practical exercise. I mean, chances are you’re just not going to get to do a 5 Whys Analysis in a NEBOSH General Certificate.

So this course kind of exceeds that standard. This course goes into a lot of detail on how to handle witnesses, how to interview people, what are the good practices, the bad practices, and in particular, focuses on the PEACE model which is planning, engage, explain, accounts, clarification, challenge, enclosure, an evaluation at the end. So there’s this whole model that is followed, again, this doesn’t get a mention on the NEBOSH General Certificates, abut is really useful for safety practitioners to get their teeth into this. And then finally the course closes with advanced methodologies like the fish bone analysis and so on.

So that’s the general content of the course and it’s really quite advanced.

Where can  I study it?

Well, there are lots of good trading providers and lots of mediocre ones as well, but plenty of people out there are accredited to deliver this course around the UK and also abroad. One downside to it is though, is that there isn’t a huge amount of demand for this course, and it’s certainly nowhere near as popular as the NEBOSH General Certificate.

What does that mean?

It means that HSE courses tend to be advertised and then postponed or cancelled because there just aren’t enough people on the course. If you managed to get booked on to this course, there’s a fairly good chance (depending on where you are in the country), that it’s going to get postponed because they just won’t be enough people to justify running it, and it can get postponed repeatedly. I’ve heard stories of people waiting over a year in order to sit this course, which can be incredibly frustrating.

Choose your training provider very, very carefully!

I’d love to say to choose me, but as accredited as I am, I don’t actually deliver this course as an open course. You can’t book yourself as a single person on to this course. I deliver it for employers to put their team through its in-house training only and video eLearning with me. But as an open course for a delegate, choose carefully because this course can be death by PowerPoint, as most health and safety courses are death by PowerPoint.

But if you want an engaging experience, if you want something that gives you more than just a piece of paper, if you want knowledge, skills, a real insight, choose carefully and ask them about how they’re going to present the course. The way we deliver the course, is we try and make it as interactive as we can. And what that means is we actually investigate an incident on the course, there is a little bit of PowerPoint, but we’re bouncing back and forth between the theory and the practical.

So, if we’re going to talk about gathering information, then we’re going to actually get to gather information. We’re going to find information. If we’re going to analyse information, that’s theoretical. We’re going to go through risk assessments, go through method statements, we’re going to go through witness statements and so on. And then we’ll do an actual 5 Whys Analysis on that incident.

And then when it comes to the interviews, we don’t just talk about the interview. We actually do some interviews with some of the people on the course. Sometimes it goes so well and sometimes it goes so badly. It’s hilarious. But it really does teach people the key skills required, so it has to be something interactive.

Now, if you’re struggling to get onto a face to face course, then eLearning is the other option. And unfortunately, there are only three companies who are accredited at the moment to deliver this course by eLearning. And actually one of them doesn’t even have the course up and running yet.

So there are actually only two options. Now, one of those options is Compassa, and that’s me. That’s my course. And there is another course available out there. Both courses are hugely different.

The other course is basically the NEBOSH book, which has been licensed and copied and pasted into an eLearning platform. So, it’s lots of text with a handful of quizzes and a handful of introductory videos. Kind of black and white. Whereas our course (and this is where I’m going to blow my own trumpet), is delivered entirely by interactive video.

It’s not just me talking. There’s lots of footage, lots of images and the videos are interactive, meaning they include quizzes and questions to keep you thinking throughout. So you have to participate in the video. You have to do things in the video to get the video to move forward. And it’s also got all written materials and a downloadable book.

There are literally 400+ interactive exercises in there.

Both courses are roughly the same price. But the other course is nothing to shout home about. And so if you are just by yourself and you want this course and you’re struggling to get a decent face to face course where you are, then why not consider eLearning and have a look at both options.

Have a look at our competitors, by all means. Then come to us and have a free trial and take a look and see which one you prefer the most.

Hopefully that has answered the question: What’s the difference between the NEBOSH Incident Investigation Award and the NEBOSH General Certificate?

And if anyone’s got any questions about the course, if you’d like to take a look like a demo, just feel free to send me an email: will@compassa.co.uk

I’ll catch you later.