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The NEBOSH International General Certificate in Occupational Safety and Health (pilot)

November 2003

The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) is dedicated to raising the standard of practice, Dr Stephen Vickers, Chief Executive of NEBOSH explains.

The NEBOSH National General Certificate has been recognised for many years in the UK as the basis for a sound, broad introduction to the fundamentals of occupational health and safety. NEBOSH is in the process of establishing an international version of the award. Courses leading to the new award are being piloted by a small number of approved NEBOSH centres, from late 2003 to March 2004. An evaluation of the pilot will follow and, guided by that evaluation, NEBOSH will develop the award as one that will achieve recognition around the globe.

Key difference

The key difference between the National Certificate and the proposed International Certificate is in the applicability of legal requirements. While health and safety in the UK is underpinned by an established and well-structured set of legislative requirements, which cannot be excluded from a national award, this is less relevant in an international context. The proposed syllabus therefore omits reference to any particular national legal requirements. In common with the national award, however, the syllabus is structured according to a management framework. The framework used for the National General Certificate is the health and safety management model described in the UK Health and Safety Executive's publication 'Successful Health and Safety Management' (HSG65). The International Certificate, on the other hand, makes reference to the model proposed in the ILO's 'Guidelines on Occupational Safety and Health Management Systems' (ILO-OSH 2001). This broadly follows that set out in the British Standards Group's 'Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems' (OHSAS 18001), part of the 'Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series'. While this has not yet been adopted as a British Standard, it is achieving increasing international acceptance and recognition.

The principles of achieving high standards of health and safety are the same regardless of any local legal requirements. It is these principles, and the practices that follow them, that form the basis of the International Certificate. Where international technical and other standards (ILO Codes of Practice, for instance) exist and are relevant, these are emphasised in the syllabus. In other cases, UK requirements and practices may be assumed to represent 'good practice' and reference made in this respect to UK Approved Codes of Practice and relevant guidance. Where particular local requirements apply, then these should form part of course material, but will not be examined.


The NEBOSH International General Certificate has been designed for managers, supervisors, worker representatives and others who require a basic knowledge and understanding of health and safety principles and practices. The qualification will not, as a general rule, be offered in the UK, but multinational companies and others who consider that they have good reason for offering the course there may make a special case to the Board of NEBOSH. It is anticipated that candidates are likely to be employees of large organisations operating outside the UK or of multinational companies already working to international standards but needing to adapt these to accord with local needs and practice.

With this background, the NEBOSH International General Certificate aims to provide those making day-to-day decisions at work with a broad knowledge of health and safety in order to ensure that the health and safety implications of their decisions are properly taken into account. The vast majority of occupational injuries and incidents of ill-health are avoidable by good health and safety management; and good health and safety management should be recognised as an essential element of good overall management. With increasing globalisation comes the need for a common and consistent standard for achieving the health and safety of workers in all parts of the world. The NEBOSH International General Certificate will play a significant part in ensuring that this standard is a high one.

Dr Stephen Vickers, Chief Executive, National Examination Board for Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH), Chief Executive, Dominus Way, Meridian Business Park, LEICESTER, LE19 1QW, UK | Tel: +44 (0) 116 263 4717 | Fax: +44 (0) 116 282 3300 | |

Those wishing to find out more about the International Certificate can see details in a presentation given by Dr Sara Lumley at the ILO Health and Safety Centres' Annual Meeting 2003 see