For many people, GC3 represents the final hurdle to the successful completion of their NEBOSH qualification. Unfortunately, it is at this stage that lots of candidates fall down – many marks can be needlessly lost because sufficient attention hasn’t been paid to the guidance from NEBOSH. Thankfully, there are some simple actions that can be taken to maximise the chances of success:
- Before an observation sheet has been completed, every candidate should be familiar with the guidance from NEBOSH on GC3 (which has been provided to you, and can also be found on the NEBOSH website). This gives a breakdown of the structure that is expected and what is required in each part. It also contains the marking scheme and the criteria by which your work will be judged – PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THIS. It can be a fine line as to whether your work gets high or low marks, so make sure you understand exactly what NEBOSH are looking for.
- For every hazard there MUST be a consequence. It is not sufficient to state that a wire is trailing; in order to get the mark you should also say that this trip hazard could result in someone falling and receiving an injury such as broken bones. At least twenty uncontrolled hazards need to be included, and these should cover a range of at least five different types (e.g. fire, electricity, noise, manual handling, housekeeping etc.). For any good practices which may have been observed, a total of one mark is available so don’t waste time/effort by including too much of this.
- Suggested control measures must be realistic.Don’t use a sledgehammer to crack a nut; do include short term and long term controls for every hazard.
- When writing the introduction, remember that the person who’s going to read it isn’t necessarily familiar with the premises. Where and when did the inspection take place? Give an indication of the size and nature of the environment, the numbers of people involved and the processes taking place (including any key pieces of equipment or substances).
- For the main body, don’t introduce any new issues which haven’t been mentioned previously. You don’t have to discuss every hazard you’ve found, stick to the key issues and don’t just repeat what you’ve said in the observation sheets. As far as legislation is concerned, it is not sufficient to merely mention the name of the law – you must clearly link it to what you’ve observed and say that the law has been breached.
- Be persuasive. In the main body there are a significant number of marks available for use of language that would persuade senior management to take action. This should include the moral, legal and financial arguments to act upon what you’ve found (without repeating the same thing). Keep the main body well-structured and logical.
- Many marks can be gained or lost in the conclusion. Lots of candidates miss out here because they only include a paragraph or two of general statements. To score highly here, the actual main findings of the report need to be summarised concisely. Failure to do this can be very costly as it can have a knock on effect in the next section.
- Recommendations MUST be based upon what has been mentioned in the conclusions. Detailed recommendations will not score as highly as they should if they can’t be seen to be a logical progression from the previous section (i.e. the contents of the recommendations should be justified by what has been said in the conclusions). All recommendations should be prioritised and include the resource implications involved. They should be set out in a table and NEBOSH have even set out the required format (stick to it).
- Write the executive summary last. If you don’t have a clear view of what your conclusions or recommendations are yet, how can you summarise them? All the important points contained in the report should be found here (concisely) in an overview. If a senior manager were to read this section, would they know what the report was asking of them (and crucially, want to read on)?
- Everything has its place. Don’t waste time and effort by putting the moral, legal and financial arguments in your observation sheets. Look at the guidance from NEBOSH and don’t deviate from it.