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September 2011

Examiners Report NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety (NGC2)

Examiners Report
NEBOSH NATIONAL GENERAL CERTIFICATE IN OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY UNIT NGC2: CONTROLLING WORKPLACE HAZARDS SEPTEMBER 2011

CONTENTS

Introduction

General comments

Comments on individual questions

2011 NEBOSH, Dominus Way, Meridian Business Park, Leicester LE19 1QW
tel: 0116 263 4700 fax: 0116 282 4000 email: info@nebosh.org.uk website: www.nebosh.org.uk

The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health is a registered charity, number 1010444
T(s):exrpts/C/NGC11109 EXTERNAL DW/DA/REW

Introduction

NEBOSH (The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health) was formed in 1979 as an independent examining board and awarding body with charitable status. We offer a comprehensive range of globally-recognised, vocationally-related qualifications designed to meet the health, safety, environmental and risk management needs of all places of work in both the private and public sectors. Courses leading to NEBOSH qualifications attract over 25,000 candidates annually and are offered by over 400 course providers in 65 countries around the world. Our qualifications are recognised by the relevant professional membership bodies including the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management (IIRSM). NEBOSH is an awarding body recognised and regulated by the UK regulatory authorities: The Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator (Ofqual) in England The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) in Wales The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) in Northern Ireland The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) in Scotland

Where appropriate, NEBOSH follows the latest version of the GCSE, GCE, Principal Learning and Project Code of Practice published by the regulatory authorities in relation to examination setting and marking (available at the Ofqual website www.ofqual.gov.uk). While not obliged to adhere to this code, NEBOSH regards it as best practice to do so. Candidates scripts are marked by a team of Examiners appointed by NEBOSH on the basis of their qualifications and experience. The standard of the qualification is determined by NEBOSH, which is overseen by the NEBOSH Council comprising nominees from, amongst others, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). Representatives of course providers, from both the public and private sectors, are elected to the NEBOSH Council. This report on the Examination provides information on the performance of candidates which it is hoped will be useful to candidates and tutors in preparation for future examinations. It is intended to be constructive and informative and to promote better understanding of the syllabus content and the application of assessment criteria. NEBOSH 2011

Any enquiries about this report publication should be addressed to: NEBOSH Dominus Way Meridian Business Park Leicester LE10 1QW Tel: 0116 263 4700 Fax: 0116 282 4000 Email: info@nebosh.org.uk

EXTERNAL

General comments

Many candidates are well prepared for this unit assessment and provide comprehensive and relevant answers in response to the demands of the question paper. This includes the ability to demonstrate understanding of knowledge by applying it to workplace situations. There are always some candidates, however, who appear to be unprepared for the unit assessment and who show both a lack of knowledge of the syllabus content and a lack of understanding of how key concepts should be applied to workplace situations. In order to meet the pass standard for this assessment, acquisition of knowledge and understanding across the syllabus are prerequisites. However, candidates need to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding in answering the questions set. Referral of candidates in this unit is invariably because they are unable to write a full, well-informed answer to one or more of the questions asked. Some candidates find it difficult to relate their learning to the questions and as a result offer responses reliant on recalled knowledge and conjecture and fail to demonstrate a sufficient degree of understanding. Candidates should prepare themselves for this vocational examination by ensuring their understanding, not rote-learning pre-prepared answers. Common pitfalls It is recognised that many candidates are well prepared for their assessments. However, recurrent issues, as outlined below, continue to prevent some candidates reaching their full potential in the assessment. Many candidates fail to apply the basic principles of examination technique and for some candidates this means the difference between a pass and a referral. In some instances, candidates do not attempt all the required questions or are failing to provide complete answers. Candidates are advised to always attempt an answer to a compulsory question, even when the mind goes blank. Applying basic health and safety management principles can generate credit worthy points. Some candidates fail to answer the question set and instead provide information that may be relevant to the topic but is irrelevant to the question and cannot therefore be awarded marks. Many candidates fail to apply the command words (also known as action verbs, eg describe, outline, etc). Command words are the instructions that guide the candidate on the depth of answer required. If, for instance, a question asks the candidate to describe something, then few marks will be awarded to an answer that is an outline. Similarly the command word identify requires more information than a list. Some candidates fail to separate their answers into the different sub-sections of the questions. These candidates could gain marks for the different sections if they clearly indicated which part of the question they were answering (by using the numbering from the question in their answer, for example). Structuring their answers to address the different parts of the question can also help in logically drawing out the points to be made in response. Candidates need to plan their time effectively. Some candidates fail to make good use of their time and give excessive detail in some answers leaving insufficient time to address all of the questions. Candidates should also be aware that Examiners cannot award marks if handwriting is illegible. Candidates should note that it is not necessary to start a new page in their answer booklet for each section of a question.

EXTERNAL

Unit NGC 2 Controlling workplace hazards


Question 1 A worker is using a hand-held powered rotary grinding tool during the manufacture of large steel waste containers. This work creates high levels of noise and vibration. (a) Outline the health effects that could be suffered by the worker from exposure to: (i) (ii) (b) noise; vibration. (8) (6)

Outline practical control measures that could be taken to reduce levels of exposure to: (i) (ii) noise; vibration. (3) (3)

For part (a), the possible effects that could have been outlined include temporary threshold shift which affects the ability to hear sound at particular frequencies, and is a condition which is reversible; permanent threshold shift where there is physiological damage to the sensory hair cells in the inner ear affecting sounds within the audible frequency range and particularly the speech frequency and which is irreversible; tinnitus, characterised by a ringing in the ears which may be acute or chronic together with secondary effects such as stress, headaches and loss of concentration; and occupational deafness where there is a significant loss of hearing. In the case of vibration candidates were expected to outline effects such as numbness and blanching of the fingers; swollen and painful joints; a reduction in strength, grip and dexterity and in sensory perception; and carpal tunnel syndrome, a nerve disorder, resulting in pain, tingling and numbness of the hand. In many answers there was insufficient detail given to support an outline question. It appeared that some candidates had not read the question with sufficient care and referred to whole body vibration despite the reference to a hand-held piece of equipment. For part (b), as far as noise was concerned, candidates should have outlined practical control measures such as placing damping material in or around the steel containers and isolating them from the floor surface; using absorbent screens to minimise reflected noise; carrying out the work in acoustic booths; and ensuring workers were issued with and wore suitable hearing protection. The levels of exposure to vibration could be reduced by using lower vibrating tools; fitting anti vibration handles or grips to the equipment; ensuring the equipment was well maintained; and providing appropriate personal protective equipment such as gloves to keep the hands warm. In most answers, there seemed to be a general lack of understanding of either practical control measures that should be taken or technical solutions that were available with a consequent reliance on procedural controls such as the provision of breaks and job rotation.

EXTERNAL

Question 2

During redecoration work temporary access is to be provided for office workers through an external storage area where vehicles are operating. Identify the control measures to reduce the risk of injury to the office workers when using this temporary access.

(8)

In answer to this question, candidates could have identified control measures such as ensuring the suitability of the floor surface; marking a walkway which should be adequate in width, well signed and routed so that there is no danger that the office workers might come into contact with stored items or be struck by falling objects; providing well marked crossing points over vehicle routes together with physical barriers where these are considered to be necessary; providing a good standard of lighting; programming the work in the storage area so that traffic movement is restricted during the times that the access route is being used; issuing the office workers with high visibility jackets; ensuring that the vehicle drivers have adequate visibility for example by the erection of mirrors; and ensuring good standards of housekeeping in the storage area with arrangements for providing protection during inclement weather such as for example for the application of grit to prevent slipping. Whilst in general this question was reasonably well answered, some candidates concentrated only on control measures directly connected with the vehicles to the exclusion of those which might have a more direct effect on pedestrians such as walkways and protection from falling materials.

Question 3

With reference to the fire triangle, identify the factors that could increase the risk of a fire starting in a motor vehicle repair workshop.

(8)

In their answers to this question, candidates were initially expected to refer to the three components of the fire triangle, namely ignition, fuel and oxygen and then to identify the factors in a motor vehicle repair workshop related to these components that could increase the risk of a fire starting. For example, possible ignition sources would include hot work, faults in electrical equipment, hot vehicle parts, and heating and lighting appliances. In this type of workshop, there would be many potential sources of fuel such as petrol, oils and lubricants; paints and solvents together with their empty containers; flammable gases such as acetylene; flammable waste together with the usual collection of newspaper, cardboard and litter. There would be sufficient air in the workshop to sustain the fire once started particularly if a local exhaust ventilation system was in operation. Some candidates identified factors such as a failure to carry out a fire assessment and a lack of fire training which could not be said to be linked to the fire triangle while others did not concentrate on the scenario described and listed items which might increase the risk of fire in any type of workshop.

EXTERNAL

Question 4

Water bottles weighing 20kg are currently being stored in a basement and employees are required to carry them to a first floor office and locate them onto a water dispenser. Outline control measures that could be taken to reduce the risk of manual handling injuries relating to: (a) (b) (c) the task; the load, the environment. (4) (2) (2)

An initial control measure that could be taken to reduce the risk of manual handling injuries relating to the load would be to avoid the operation completely by installing a mains fed water supply to the dispenser. If this was not possible, then consideration would have to be given to having the bottles delivered and stored closer to the dispenser or to load them on to a trolley in the basement which might then be brought by lift to the first floor and the bottles lifted by two persons onto the dispenser. As for the load, control measures could include the purchase of smaller bottles preferably with hand holds and marking the bottles with their weight. In considering the environment, candidates could have referred to the need to ensure there was sufficient space in the store room, that the surface of the floor was sound, that an acceptable standard of lighting was provided and that there was an unobstructed route from the room to the location of the water dispenser. Some candidates did not provide answers specific to the three part of the question but wrote in general terms on how to carry out a manual handling assessment. Others, who possibly misread the question, discussed hazards and risks rather than control measures.

Question 5

Outline factors to consider when carrying out an assessment of a display screen equipment (DSE) workstation.

(8)

In answering this question, reference should have been made to factors such as consideration of the work activity to be performed for example data inputing or touch typing in relation to the layout of the workstation; the height and adjustability of the monitor; the provision of a wrist support for the keyboard; the adjustability and stability of the chair provided for the operator; the size of the desk; the positioning of the pointing devices; the layout of equipment such as the document holder and the printer; the location of the workstation with regard to lighting and glare; environmental issues such as noise, temperature, humidity and draughts; the storage of materials around the workstation which could limit the amount of space available for the operator and affect his/her posture; the effectiveness of the cable management provided; and any special needs which the operator might have. Whilst most candidates dealt reasonably well with the question, others produced limited responses dealing with only matters such as the chair or the screen. A few concentrated on potential ill-health effects such as work related upper limb disorders or eye strain and there were also those who relied on the provision of training, information, instruction and supervision.

EXTERNAL

Question 6

An item of machinery has a moving part which employees could come into contact with during use. Identify control measures that could reduce the risk of contact with the moving part.

(8)

An initial control measure to be considered to reduce the risk of contact with the moving part would be the fitting of a guard which might, in order of preference, be fixed, interlocking, self-acting or automatic or adjustable. If none of the above was practicable, then measures such as the use of sensitive protective equipment or trip devices and the fitting of two handed controls would have to be considered. Additional risk control measures would include the use of protective appliances such as jigs, holders and push sticks; fitting a readily accessible stop button which would bring the machine to a complete stop; allowing only competent personnel to operate or carry out maintenance on the machine; and ensuring that operators are provided with adequate information, instruction and training in the hazards associated with the machine and the control measures which should be followed particularly those concerned with clothing, hair length and the wearing of jewellery which might lead to entanglement with the moving part. There were some candidates who were able to refer to the hierarchy of machinery guarding and the use of protective appliances but many answers were limited in their scope and gave the impression that a number of candidates had little understanding of machinery. A few suggested the wearing of personal protective equipment which might not be the best solution for reducing the risk of contact with the moving part.

Question 7

A dust produced during a work process contains a substance that is classified as toxic and has been assigned a Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL). (a) Give the meaning of toxic as it relates to a hazardous substance. Give the meaning of Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL). Identify factors that may indicate that the WEL has been exceeded.

(2) (2)

(b) (c)

(4)

For part (a), an acceptable meaning of the word toxic when related to a hazardous substance would indicate that the substance was poisonous and that exposure even to low quantities might cause irreversible health effects or even death. There were some extremely limited answers provided for this part of the question suggesting that candidates had little knowledge of the meaning of the term. The workplace exposure limit is concerned with concentrations of hazardous substances in the air that people breathe averaged over a specified period of time and referred to as a time weighted average. Two time periods are used: long term (8 hours) intended to control effects by restricting the total intake by inhalation over one or more work shifts and short term (usually 15 minutes) to control effects that may be seen after a brief exposure. The workplace exposure limits should not be exceeded. The answers provided were limited, few referred to the two time periods and even fewer to the fact that the WEL should not be exceeded.

EXTERNAL

Factors which might indicate that the workplace exposure limit has been exceeded include the results of airborne monitoring; the results of health surveillance; cases of ill-health; visible dust in the air, on surfaces and on clothing; extraction systems not working or found to be inefficient; and complaints from the workforce. Only the more able were able to identify relevant factors and it was disappointing to note that the majority had little knowledge or understanding of the factors which would indicate that all was not well with control measures that had been introduced.

Question 8

(a)

Outline defective conditions of non-powered hand tools that could present risks to the user. Outline the requirements for the safe use of non-powered hand tools.

(5)

(b)

(3)

In answering the first part of the question, candidates could have outlined defective conditions such as split or broken shafts on tools such as on a hammer or an axe; loose heads on tools, again with the hammer or axe in mind; handles missing from files; burred or mushroomed heads on chisels; blunt blades on chisels, saws or knives; split handles on tools; bent spanners or spanners with splayed jaws; worn sockets and screwdrivers; and corroded tools. Most candidates provided answers to a reasonable standard though a few, despite the wording of the question, wrote about powered tools and the electrical hazards involved. There were better answers provided for part (b) with candidates outlining requirements for the safe use of non-powered hand tools such as selecting the appropriate or suitable tool for the task; ensuring that the users carry out regular inspection of the tools; introducing a programme of routine maintenance and replacing those tools that are found to be defective; arranging for storage facilities for the tools to be available; and training the users in the safe use and inspection of hand tools.

Question 9

An independent tied scaffold is to be erected on a building in a busy town centre location. Outline the precautions that should be taken to reduce the risk of injury to members of the public during erection and use of the scaffold.

(8)

Precautions that should be taken in the scenario described include obtaining a temporary pavement or even street closure if this is thought to be necessary in the area where the scaffold is to be erected; undertaking the erection work in the quiet hours such as early morning or late evening; erecting fans, tunnels and nets and using barriers and signs to direct the public away from the operation; refraining from stacking scaffold materials on the public highway and taking care not to raise or lower materials over areas where members of the public are likely to be present; erecting cones and signs to direct traffic flow; preventing unauthorised access to the scaffold by boarding over the access ladder; using an internal hoist and/or chutes; providing protection for protruding parts of the scaffold; providing a close boarded working platform with toe boards and guard rails to prevent the fall of materials; providing a good standard of lighting for enclosed walkways and ensuring the initial erection and subsequent regular inspections of the scaffold are carried out by competent personnel. In general, answers to this question were to a reasonable standard though some candidates did not consider the provision of protection against falling objects and the erection of cones and signs. Some limited their answers to the erection of the scaffold 8

EXTERNAL

and the components that should be used whilst a few concentrated on measures to reduce the risk to the workforce rather than to members of the general public.

Question 10

Outline how fires could be caused by electricity.

(8)

In their outline of how fires might be caused by electricity, candidates were expected to include relevant causes such as inadequate specification of electrical equipment and systems taking into account the environment in which they are to be used; defective wiring such as damaged cables, loose connections or poor insulation; system faults such as short circuits; ignition of flammable or combustible materials due to arcing and/or sparking from switches or motors and static electricity; incorrect fuse rating; overheating from coiled extension leads; overloaded electrical sockets generally with multiple adaptors; unsafe modifications to the system such as unauthorised wiring and fuse replacement; and lack of adequate maintenance both of fixed installations and portable appliances. This was an outline question but in many cases answers lacked the required technical content. Candidates gave the impression that they had little knowledge of the hazards and/or risks associated with the use of electricity and while they were able to include terms such as short circuits and overloading in their answers, Examiners were given little confidence that they understood what the terms meant.

Question 11

(a)

Outline the differences between acute and chronic health effects. Identify the factors that could affect the level of risk to an employee exposed to a hazardous substance.

(4)

(b)

(4)

In answering part (a), candidates should have outlined that, in the case of acute health effects, the adverse effects appear after a single or short term exposure to the agent, and the response is invariably rapid or immediate and can be reversible. Chronic health effects, on the other hand, usually result from prolonged or repeated exposure to the agent. The response is normally gradual, may go unrecognised for long periods of time but is often progressive and irreversible. Answers to this part of the question were to a reasonable standard though some candidates had difficulty in differentiating between chronic and acute effects and which was reversible and which was not. For part (b), candidates should have identified factors such as the route of entry of the toxic substance into the body and the associated mode of exposure; the concentration, physical state and toxicity of the substance; the level, duration and frequency of exposure; the effectiveness of control measures in place; and personal factors such as the age, gender, health status and susceptibilities of those exposed. Answers were generally to a reasonable standard though a few candidates were able to refer only to the concentration of the substance and the duration of the exposure. Some answers identified the categories of hazardous substances such as toxic, corrosive, harmful and irritant which was not particularly relevant to the question asked.

EXTERNAL

The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health Dominus Way Meridian Business Park Leicester LE19 1QW telephone +44 (0)116 2634700 fax +44 (0)116 2824000 email info@nebosh.org.uk www.nebosh.org.uk