NEBOSH Command Words

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NEBOSH Command Words

NEBOSH Command Words

There are many things to consider while attempting the NEBOSH, but the main thing that the student should follow is the NEBOSH Command Words. These are the most important to achieve the NEBOSH IGC in the first attempt. Most of the students don’t follow the rules and some of them don’t know about that so the reason they get failed. These are the following NEBOSH command words.

  1. Identify

To give reference to an item, which could be its name or title.

NB: normally a word or phrase will be sufficient, provided the reference is clear.

For Example:

Identify FOUR hazards associated with excavations? (4)

 Sufficient answers would include:

Collapse of the sides

Water Ingress

Falling Material

Undergrounds Services

  1. Give

To provide short, factual answers. To offer for consideration, acceptance, or use of another.

NB: normally a single word, phrase or sentence will be sufficient. Give an example of; Give the meaning of.

For Example:

Identify FOUR types of safety sign AND Give an example in EACH case. (4)

Sufficient answers would include:

Prohibition signs – eg No smoking

Warning signs – eg Caution hot surface

Mandatory signs – eg Wear ear protection

Emergency or safe condition signs – eg first-aid box

  1. Outline

To indicate the principal features or different parts of.

NB: an exhaustive description is not required. What is sought is a brief summary of the major aspects of whatever is stated in the question

To gain the marks for the outline example questions below, the same breadth of the answer is required as for an identify answer, but now, additional information will be required to satisfy the depth of an outline. NEBOSH Command Words

For Example:

Outline FOUR hazards associated with excavations? (4)

Sufficient answers would include:

Collapse of the sides – Unsupported trench or incorrect angle of the sides.

Water ingress –Through heavy rain or burst water main.

Falling materials –Spoil dug from excavation or materials and tools stored at ground level could fall in.

Underground services –Contact or rupturing of electricity, gas or water utilities.

  1. Describe

To give a detailed written account of the distinctive features of a subject. The account should be factual, without any attempt to explain.

When describing a subject (or object) a test of sufficient detail would be that another person would be able to visualize what you are describing.

For Example:

Describe the mechanical hazards associated with a bench grinder. (8)

A sufficient answer would be:

An entanglement hazard would be associated with the rotating spindle that the abrasive wheel is mounted on. Drawing in and trapping is associated with the gap between the tool rest and the rotating abrasive wheel. Friction or abrasion hazards would be associated with the surface of the rotating abrasive wheel and stabbing or puncture hazards could be created by flying fragments or pieces of ejected broken wheel.

  1. Explain

To provide an understanding. To make an idea or relationship clear.

NB: this command word is testing the candidate’s ability to know or understand why or how something happens. Is often associated with the words ‘how’ or ‘why’.

For Example:

Explain how sensitive protective equipment (trip device) can reduce the risk of contact with moving parts of machinery. (8)

A sufficient answer would be:

Sensitive protective equipment is designed to identify the presence of a person or body part within the danger zone of machinery. Examples of such devices include pressure mats and light beams that are connected to the machine controls and would stop the machine rapidly should a person or body part be detected.

Responding to command words in questions

It is important to read the whole question and to understand what the question requires as the command word on its own will need to be reinforced by the remainder of the question.

Many candidates miss out on gaining marks because they do not read the question carefully enough and do not think about their answer thoroughly before writing it down.

Candidates need to think about each question.

  • what is the command word?
  • how do I need to improve to gain marks?
  • when it is or is not relevant to the question?

In order to pass exam,  a brief answer plan is an essential aid to ensuring that answers are well thought out and structured.

NEBOSH applies a ‘positive marking’ approach; that is, marks are awarded for correct material in candidates’ answers, rather than being deducted for incorrect or missing material.


Guidance on NEBOSH Commands Words are very important to pass the NEBOSH in first attempt. NEBOSH Command Words

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