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How to complete the practical risk assessment for your NEBOSH certificate

Written by Phoenix Health & Safety
13th April 2021
nebosh risk assessment

If you are studying towards a NEBOSH certificate-level qualification, you will have to complete a practical risk assessment of your workplace as part of your studies, especially the NG2 and IG2 study modules.

This practical element assesses your ability to apply your learnings to a real-life scenario. If your workplace is too small or unsuitable, the Phoenix team will be able to arrange an alternative location. It is vital to speak to the management of the premises before starting a risk assessment.

It is a good idea to download the assessment documents at an early stage, so you can be mentally preparing as you study the course. The pack also includes detailed advice on tackling the assignment and an example of a successful risk assessment to use as a model for your submission.

Keep these documents handy and refer to them as you go along. You should check each section of your assessment against the marking criteria to make sure you’ve included everything required to pass.

How the assessment works

The NEBOSHrisk assessment should take around three hours to complete and it is vital to use the time wisely. If you finish earlier, you may not have provided enough detail. 

The assessment is split into four stages, each with separate marking criteria, and you need to pass them all. There are stipulated word counts for each section, although some flexibility is permitted.

Stages of a NEBOSH risk assessment

Stage 1 - description and methodology

This section needs to include a description of the organisation, including its location, the number of employees, details of its products, services and activities. You should also include a description of the methodology you have used for the assessment, including the sources of the information being presented, who was interviewed and how the hazards were identified. 

Stage 2 - risk assessment

This section is the risk assessment itself. You are required to identify at least ten different hazards from five different hazard categories. The categories you can select from are elements five to eleven of the NEBOSH syllabus:

  • Physical and psychological hazards
  • Musculoskeletal health
  • Chemical and biological agents
  • General workplace issues
  • Work equipment
  • Fire
  • Electricity

Attention to detail is vital here. You will fail the assessment unless you identify the required number of hazards from the correct number of categories, stating the hazard category in each case. For example, listing eleven hazards from four categories is unacceptable. 

The assessment form has six columns, and the following information is required for each hazard:

  1. The hazard and its category 
  2. Who may be harmed and how 
  3. What measures are already in place to control the hazard 
  4. What further actions are needed 
  5. Timescales for completion of these actions 
  6. The role of the person responsible for each action

Stage 3 - prioritising actions

In this part of the risk assessment, you must choose the three high priority actions from the hazards identified in part 2 and justify why these are urgent. Your justifications for prioritising these actions should include:

  • Moral, legal and financial reasons why they are urgently needed, including the relevant legislation or standards
  • The likelihood and severity of the hazard
  • How effective the recommended action is likely to be

There must be three actions discussed in this section, if you only provide two, you will fail the assessment.

Stage 4 - review, communicate and check 

In the final section of the risk assessment, you should detail who needs to know about the risk assessment findings and how should they be told, including communication channels. You should also include when the follow-up risk assessment should take place, to check that the recommended actions have been effective.

How will you know you have passed the NEBOSH risk assessment?

There are no grades for the risk assessment. You will receive either a "pass" or a "refer". The latter means that you will have to resubmit your assessment. If you receive a “refer”, make sure you have included the following key points:

  • The methodology of the risk assessment (section 1)
  • In section 2, identified ten hazards from 5 different categories
  • Provided enough details of the hazards, and who could be harmed (section 2)
  • Prioritised three action in section 3. If you provide more than three action, these will not be marked.
  • Specified how the risk assessment will be communicated and to whom.

Now you know what to expect. All that remains is to book your NEBOSH certificate course with the expert Phoenix team, and make sure you are as well prepared and supported as possible.