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  9. NEBOSH General Certificate and Human Reasons for Accidents

NEBOSH General Certificate and Human Reasons for Accidents

The Human Element of Health and Safety

The Health and Safety Management Systems element of the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus describes, along with lots of other information, the human element of health and safety. Despite all of the advances in technology in recent years which has led to the introduction of automated safety controls and safeguards to protect workers, it has to be remembered that it is still the case that the majority of accidents are caused by the actions or inactions of a person.

Safety Procedures Need to be Followed

The most common actions are those which deliberately circumvent and bypass any safeguards which have been put in place to prevent accidents and injuries from happening. Usually this is because workers are trying to get a job done quickly and cannot be bothered going through a safety procedure or checklist for example to ensure that the task is completed safely. It is up to managers to ensure not only that are up to speed and fully trained in how to manage safely, but also that their employees are adhering to all safety control measures which have been introduced for their protection. As managers are responsible for setting the working practices and health and safety culture which their employees follow, it is imperative that they themselves recognise the importance of health and safety and take it seriously, even if that means employees take slightly longer to complete certain tasks.

The NEBOSH General Certificate

Along with deliberate actions and inactions the NEBOSH General Certificate course will also explain how personal factors and the characteristics of certain workers will have an effect upon the way they work. For example their perception and attitude towards health and safety will be just as important as the amount of knowledge which they have about it. Having all the information in their head will mean very little if they do not apply it or take it seriously.

Worker Welfare and Well-Being

Working conditions too will play a part. Having tired, overworked employees and/or those having to work in poor conditions such as inadequate lighting or in uncomfortable temperatures will be more likely to either suffer an accident or cause one, which not only puts their own safety at risk but also that of those around them. Whilst employees should speak up about their concerns, again it is the responsibility of management to provide suitable working environments for their staff members, as well as monitoring their current physical and psychological state.

Health and Safety Management

Managers responsible for health and safety within their department or organisation who enrol and achieve the NEBOSH General Certificate will have a much greater awareness not only of how human factors have the potential to create accidents, but also what conditions and situations contribute to these actions, and subsequently what can be done to eliminate such conditions. It will also teach them about the importance of health and safety management systems, accident investigation, workplace safety culture, working environment and much more.

If you would like to find out more information about the NEBOSH General Certificate course, please click here to read the course outline and see scheduled dates and prices for open courses.

Obtaining Competent Health and Safety People

When it has been identified that there is a deficiency in the skills and knowledge of the workforce and that one or more competent persons need to be in place, a company will have two options.

One is to recruit a person who already has qualifications such as a NEBOSH General Certificate, NEBOSH Diploma or NVQ Level 5 in Health and Safety for example. Having accredited health and safety qualifications such as these will instantly prove to company managers that the potential candidate has acquired the knowledge to contribute towards the level of health and safety within the organisation. When this can be combined with practical experience of working in a similar industry or job role, it makes for an excellent potential candidate for an addition to the workforce.

Alternatively the company can train an existing employee or employees. By providing health and safety training on particular subjects such as COSHH or manual handling training, as well as allowing/funding them on courses like the ones mentioned in the above paragraph, workers will increase their knowledge and competency.

The Perils of Becoming a Health and Safety Manager

There are both advantages and disadvantages of each of these methods when it comes to installing health and safety managers. Recruiting a person with existing qualifications and experience will allow access to their knowledge and expertise instantaneously, whereas having to provide training and putting them on courses such as the NEBOSH General Certificate will take time. A new person may bring with them fresh ideas and ways of working that were never previously considered within the organisation. They may however cause resentment from existing workers if this new person comes straight in making changes and upsetting the way things have been done for a long time. Even though this may be necessary, it is still likely to cause trouble!

An existing worker who is promoted to a position where they are responsible for health and safety and so subsequently have to manage people they used to be of equal status with can go one of two ways. Either their former colleagues will trust them and do what they say because they already know them and work well together, or they will be jealous and resentful of someone telling them what to do who used to be "one of them".

Psychological Health Hazards and the NEBOSH National General Certificate

An element of the NEBOSH National General Certificate syllabus is devoted to psychological health issues and the causes and consequences that this far less obvious type of health and safety hazard has. It is less obvious because unlike an injury such as a cut or laceration which is immediately obvious to see and treat, the build-up and symptoms of psychological health issues are not easy to spot and may be being deliberately concealed by the sufferer.

What are Psychological Health Hazards?

These hazards are ones affecting the brain such as stress, depression and anxiety, along with mental health issues. They often occur over a period of time rather than a quick contributory factor like other health issues such as falls or cuts. As they are often hidden and concealed by a person it can be much more difficult for an employer or co-worker to notice that anything is wrong or that the person requires treatment for the condition.

Stress is the Most Common Psychological Health Hazard

Workplace stress is by far the most prevalent of psychological issues experienced by both managers and employees alike. It can be brought about by a variety of different causes including poor working conditions, unrealistic deadlines, inadequate tools and resources to perform a task, relationships with colleagues and management, perceived job security etc. Workplace stress can continue to build as the causes of it are not readily addressed if others in the workplace are unaware of the problems. This is why it is so important not only for those suffering from workplace stress to inform managers or colleagues about the issues they are encountering, but also for management to closely monitor their employees for signs of stress or other psychological or mental issues which may be building up and may come to a head one day in the form of a breakdown or an accident caused by the person which may endanger both themselves and others around them.

Physical and Psychological Health Hazards

The physical and psychological health hazards and control element of NEBOSH General Certificate courses will deal with the effects that performing certain tasks and working in specific conditions can have on both a person's body and upon their mental state. It will look at certain forms of danger in a typical place of work including noise, vibration, stress and radiation.

The effects of these risks to health may not be seen immediately on the body which can make them particularly dangerous as a worker may not cease the action before damage has been done. Just like certain COSHH risks from substances which are hazardous to health, they can also be cumulative in their effects insofar as a small amount may not pose any danger, which can create the impression that it is safe, whereas in actual fact the long-term effects on the body can be severe and potentially fatal.

The danger from noise is likely to be the most common hazard in workplaces, as most places of work contain machinery which can be loud and can damage a person's hearing if it is of a certain volume or they are exposed to it for a significant amount of time. There are also environmental issues to consider with noise as well as it can disrupt the local community and there may be legislation to comply with.

Vibration will again come from the use of equipment, and is a particular issue for those working in the construction industry who have to use tools such as a pneumatic drill or electric sander. As a result it is covered in construction health and safety training courses including the NEBOSH Construction Certificate and CITB Site Management SMSTS and Site Supervisors SSSTS courses.

The NEBOSH General Certificate Helps You Identify Risky Behaviour

People are often both the primary cause of an accident or incident and also one of the key factors in preventing such an event too. Just as people are an organisation's greatest asset in achieving objectives such as high levels of sales or fulfilling customer service and satisfaction targets, so too are they crucial for creating a policy of working safely and preventing damages to their own health and safety and that of others nearby. Acquiring a NEBOSH General Certificate will greatly assist in this mission.

In an archetypal place of work there will be a whole, varied range of risks and hazards which can either be caused or made much more dangerous by employees if they have little or insufficient levels of knowledge and training regarding how a situation or task should be completed or handled in order to prevent accidents and injuries. Whilst no health and safety training course will be able to cover every single issue or potential danger, what the NEBOSH General Certificate does provide is one of the greatest amounts of information about common workplace hazards provided by any health and safety course or qualification out there in the marketplace today.

As stated in the opening paragraph of this page about the NEBOSH General Certificate, people's behaviour and their actions or inactions is often one of the greatest contributory factors in whether or not a health and safety incident occurs in the workplace. Therefore being able to identify risky, inappropriate or just downright dangerous behaviour from employees is a crucial component of improving levels of health and safety within the company and reducing the likelihood of someone being killed or injured as a result.

The reasons for the risky behaviour could be due to a number of different factors. The most common reason is a lack of training in health and safety and subsequently a lack of knowledge regarding what should and shouldn't be done for minimising risks and also not actually making a situation worse! If people are never taught then they will not know what to do or not do, which is why health and safety training is so critical for employees.

The other common reason for risky behaviour is a culture of risk taking or cutting corners relating to working safely and following rules, regulations and set procedures. This may actually come from management who do not promote and insist upon a safety culture within the business in order to speed up production and output, or from the employee themselves who may think that rules and procedures are unnecessary and restrictive and that they do not need to bother complying with them. In either case, an accident is far more likely as a result and is why attending a NEBOSH General Course is so important to provide everybody who attends with a thorough understanding of why knowing and respecting health and safety issues, dangers, potential hazards and safe methods of working are so important for reducing the likelihood of an accident happening.

NEBOSH General Certificate Articles

Please see below for some articles related to the NEBOSH General Certificate qualification which you may be interested in:

Articles related to the NEBOSH General Certificate course

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