GC3 Guidance and information for candidates

 NEBOSH GC3 is the third paper to pass the nebosh IGC Qualification.
First of all this document provides comprehensive guidance on the presentation and submission of the Unit GC3 practical application. Also it includes guidance on the structure and style of the report. Furthermore candidates should study this document carefully before submitting their practical application.
Finally the guidance should be read carefully in conjunction with the practical application mark scheme. So it is included in this guidance document, to provide a clear guide to the requirements of the practical application.


The aim of this unit is to assess a candidate’s ability to complete successfully two activities:
Firstly to carry out, unaided, a safety inspection of a workplace, identifying the more common hazards.  Also deciding whether they are adequately controlled and, where necessary. consequently suggesting appropriate and cost effective control measures.
Secondly, To prepare a report that persuasively urges management to take appropriate action. Certainly explaining why such action is needed (including reference to possible breaches of standards).As a result candidate need to  identify practical legislation and control measures that should be implemented.
This will require candidates to apply the knowledge and understanding gained from their studies of elements of Units NGC1 and GC2 or Units IGC1 and GC2 in a practical environment and to carry out an evaluation of information gathered during the inspection. The time allowed to complete the assessment is not restricted but candidates should aim to complete the inspection and the report in two hours. The practical application may be submitted in the candidate’s own handwriting or be word processed.
The submission must include:
· completed observation sheets covering a number and range of hazards and good practice, identifying suitable control measures and timescales;
· an introduction and executive summary;
· main findings of the completed inspection;
· conclusions which summarise the main issues identified in the candidate’s workplace;
· completed recommendations table.
The practical application must be carried out in the candidate’s own workplace. The workplace should be large enough to provide a sufficient range of hazards in the areas covered to provide an adequate range for identification. If the workplace is very large, in order that the practical application is manageable the candidate should limit the area considered.
Where the candidate does not have access to a workplace, the course provider should be consulted to help in making arrangements for the candidate to carry out the practical application at suitable premises. Providers seeking to run the practical in this way should contact NEBOSH for advice and approval.
Management at the premises should be consulted to ensure the candidate can carry out the inspection without endangering their own health and safety.
Where confidentiality requires, locations and company names may be omitted from the report, or alternatively guidance should be sought from NEBOSH.
Candidates do not require supervision when carrying out the practical application but the candidate must sign a declaration that the submission is their own work (Appendix 1). If this declaration is not submitted the candidate’s result may be declared void. A signature can be electronic or can be faxed.
Candidates must note that accredited course providers cannot comment on practical applications before submission or marking.
Candidates, employers and internal assessors should be aware that the status of the inspection undertaken to fulfil the requirements of Unit GC3 is for educational purposes only.

Date of Assessment

Assessment of the practical unit (GC3) must normally take place within 10 working days of (before or after) the date of the NGC1/IGC1 and/or GC2 written papers (the ‘date of the examination’). The results sheet completed by the accredited course provider must reach NEBOSH by no later than 15 working days after the date of the examination (Appendix 2).
If a candidate is absent from the written papers because of illness corroborated by a doctor’s note, but successfully completes the GC3 unit within the 10 working day deadline, the result will stand. If a candidate is unable to complete the GC3 unit under similar circumstances, NEBOSH may allow it to be taken at a later date beyond the normal 10 working day deadline.
The accredited course provider should advise the candidate of the latest date by which the completed report and observation sheets must be received by the course provider for marking. It is the responsibility of the course provider to ensure that the results of the practical (GC3) are available to NEBOSH by no later than 15 working days after the date of the examination for NGC1/IGC1 and/or GC2.
Completion of study for both NGC1 and GC2 or IGC1 and GC2 is recommended in order to undertake the practical application unit GC3.
Candidates planning to post their reports to the course provider should be reminded of the need to guard against loss in the post by sending their work by trackable delivery. Candidates are therefore advised to retain copies of both their completed observation sheets and report.


Practical applications will be marked by an internal assessor – a person proposed to NEBOSH by an accredited course provider and approved by NEBOSH. Internal assessors will be at least Grad IOSH of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health or equivalent and working towards chartered membership, CMIOSH, (or similar).
A marking sheet (Appendix 3) will be completed by the internal assessor for each candidate and attached to the candidate’s report. The total percentage mark for each candidate will be transferred to a results sheet (Appendix 2) and returned to NEBOSH by no later than 15 working days after the examination date of NGC1/ICG1 and/or GC2.
Candidates must achieve the pass standard (60%) in this unit in order to satisfy the criteria for the qualification.


Marked GC3 assessments are subject to external moderation by NEBOSH to monitor the standard being set and marks awarded by the internal assessor may be adjusted accordingly.
The observation sheets and report should not be sent to NEBOSH unless they are called in. However, the observation sheet and report should be retained with the mark sheet for each candidate for at least six weeks following the date of issue by NEBOSH of the examination results to which they relate. Practical applications may be called in at any time from the date of examination until six weeks after the issue of results.
Candidates may lodge an EAR (enquiry about result) within the timeframe as advised on their URN (unit result notification).

Retention of practical samples by accredited course providers

NEBOSH monitors the consistency of internal assessment by accredited course providers (eg practicals marked by the course provider) over time. Accredited course providers are therefore required to retain representative samples of practical applications (eg high pass, low pass, refer) for each standard sitting or cohort for a rolling three year period.
The sample of practicals to be retained by accredited course providers will be no more than 24 scripts per year per qualification, but providers may choose to retain more for internal quality assurance purposes. Providers should retain the archived sample for three years in a manner that makes them easily retrievable. This is intended to enable course provider staff to monitor the standards of candidate performance in the practical application over time, and make improvements to their delivery when necessary. Additionally, the samples will serve as exemplar materials for practical application assessors appointed by accredited course providers to use as guidance in their assessment decisions.
Sampling of accredited course provider-marked scripts enables NEBOSH to ensure that the standard of marking for internal assessment remains consistent over time both within and between accredited course providers. Using archived materials in this way is intended to maintain marking standards and enhance parity between the marks before and after moderation.
Other scripts should be disposed of as confidential waste.

Completion of observation sheets

Candidates will be supplied with a sufficient number of observation sheets from a course provider which may be photocopied for the purpose. An example observation sheet is given at Appendix 4. The observation sheets must be completed during the inspection. Only brief details of each hazard are required including where the hazard was located and the consequences of the hazard. For example, ‘housekeeping could be better’ does not give enough information about the particular hazard.
The observation sheets should be completed by:
· identifying, in the left hand column, any hazards, unsafe work practices and examples of good practice observed during the inspection;
· commenting in the next column, on the adequacy of existing controls and identifying any immediate and longer term remedial actions needed;
· stating, in the right hand column a reasonable timescale for the actions identified.
There should be sufficient information on the observation sheets to enable the candidate to complete a report to management on their findings. Candidates are also advised to make notes on the area inspected, including activities taking place, in order to complete the introduction to their report. Whilst poor spelling and grammar will not be marked or penalised, if the assessor is unable to read or to understand the notes made by candidates during their inspection then invariably fewer marks will be awarded than would otherwise have been the case. The practical application may be submitted in the candidate’s own handwriting or word processed.

Marking of observation sheets

Candidates are advised to refer to the marking sheet given at Appendix 3 and the marking matrix given at Appendix 6.
Range and outline of hazards and consequences (15 marks)
Candidates should outline 20 uncontrolled hazards to gain maximum marks, but are strongly recommended to outline more than 20 (but no more than 30) in case of duplication or inappropriate hazards being outlined. Student must demonstrate their understanding of how identified hazards have the potential to cause harm, for example, boxes stored on the floor may cause obstruction of access, egress routes and / or a potential of musculoskeletal injury if lifted. This information must be recorded in the ‘Hazards and consequences’ column.
Also students are expected to outline different types of hazards such as hazardous substances, fire, electrical, work equipment, ergonomic, housekeeping, noise, vibration, transport, manual handling and health hazards and should also consider if there are any welfare and environmental problems. At least five different types of hazard must be included for maximum marks. In addition candidates are expected to comment on situations where there is adequate control of hazards and where good practice is being observed, although candidates should place the emphasis on uncontrolled hazards. A maximum of 1 mark is available for good practice.
Candidates who repeat identical hazards will only be awarded ONE mark for that hazard (eg inadequate labelling of an unknown chemical substance). Candidates should focus on physical conditions and not on poor policies and procedures.
It is important to note that credit can only be gained in this section for clearly outlined hazards.
Identification of suitable control measures and timescales (15 marks)
Candidates are expected to give thought to what is required to immediately control the risk from each outlined hazard AND to identify the need for long term actions to control the risk.
This requires candidates to distinguish between the symptoms and the root causes of hazards.
For example, the immediate action on a spillage may be ‘clean up spillage and inform supervisor’ whereas longer term actions might include appropriate supervisor training, regular inspections, and investigation of the source of the leak. A further longer term action may be to modify the work process to tackle the root cause. The proposed control measures must not only remove or control the hazard but must also be realistic in terms of timescales. Candidates should indicate a measure of time eg supervisor training to be completed within three months.
If existing controls are in place and considered adequate, candidates should consider any measures required to maintain this level of control.
Candidates should avoid generic phrases being repeatedly used eg ‘monitor’ and ‘train staff’. Student should give appropriate clarification by giving examples of appropriate monitoring and the type of training required.
Also candidates should be aware that if unsuitable control measures are suggested full marks cannot be awarded. Short term measures to improve housekeeping will do little to improve the lack of safety management systems and procedures evidenced by materials and equipment left lying around.
Student should also note that where the hazard is not clearly outlined full credit cannot be gained for control measures as assessors will be unable to determine appropriateness of the measures proposed.

Completion of report

Candidates should use the ‘Candidate report template’ given at Appendix 5 to structure their report. The length of the report should be between 700 and 1000 words and should not simply duplicate the observation sheets. Candidates can consult reference books when preparing the report, but plagiarism will be dealt with as malpractice.
The report should not contain photographs, printed text or any other extraneous material.
The report should be written in such terms that a manager would be able to take reasonable action based on facts. Reports based on unsupported generalities and those that simply reiterate the contents of the observation sheets will be awarded low marks.
Candidates should aim to complete their report in one hour.
If none of the criteria to award marks is met, then zero marks will be awarded.

Marking of report

Candidates are advised to refer to the marking sheet given at Appendix 3 and the marking matrix given at Appendix 6.

Report – Introduction and Executive Summary

Introduction providing an overview of the chosen area (5 marks)
Candidates should start with the details of the inspection, stating where and when the inspection took place. A clear and appropriate description of the chosen area and of the activities occurring in the area should be given.
Executive summary (5 marks)
The executive summary should be written after the candidate has completed the rest of the report but it should be inserted at the beginning of the report. The purpose of the executive summary is to provide a concise overview of the important points arising from the work and summarise the main conclusions and recommendations arising from it.
An executive summary should provide sufficient information to enable a busy manager to make a decision as to whether or not to read the full report and to provide a persuasive case for implementation of recommendations made.

Report – Main findings of the inspection

The main findings of the inspection should form the main body of the report and include the following aspects:
The report should be well structured, the appropriate length and not duplicate observation sheets. The report should be concise, readable and highly selective in terms of action required by management. Candidates should include balanced arguments on why action is needed and explain the effect it would have on the standards of health and safety at the workplace and the possible effects on the business overall as a result.
Quality of interpretation of findings (15 marks)
There should be a logical progression from the hazards outlined on the observation sheets. The key issues should be appropriately selected and discussed, and should not include any hazards not outlined on the observation sheets and does not duplicate the observation sheets.
Identification of possible breaches of legislation and standards (5 marks)
Candidates should be able to identify legislation eg Manual Handling Operations Regulations, standards and conventions listed in the syllabus that may have been infringed eg Guidelines on Occupational Safety and Health Management Systems (ILO-OSH) 2001. Credit will also be given for reference to appropriate local standards.
Candidates must ensure that any legislation, standards or convention referred to is relevant to the area/location inspected and hazards outlined and must demonstrate a clear understanding of the reasons for the breaches. Candidates should identify a minimum of five breaches.
Persuasiveness / conciseness / technical content (10 marks)
The candidate must explain why management need to take action including clear legal, moral and financial arguments. Issues requiring urgent action by management with associated explanations containing convincing arguments why such action is needed should be included. Reference can be made to the list of observations and recommended actions, calling particular attention to any recommendations which could have a high cost in terms of finance, inconvenience or time.
Financial benefits, such as increased productivity, may also accrue from making appropriate changes to safety systems. The possible costs of not taking action should be included.

Report – Conclusions and Recommendations

Clear and concise conclusions which are clearly related to report findings and are effective in convincing management to take action (15 marks)
This section should provide a concise summary of the findings identified in the main body of the candidate’s report to persuade management to take action. The conclusions should not introduce new issues or additional factors.
Recommendations which present realistic actions to improve health and safety in the chosen area (15 marks)
Candidates must include recommendations based upon their conclusions.
Most importantly recommendations must be presented using the recommendations table included at Appendix 5. The recommendations must be realistic, appropriately prioritised and have appropriate resource implications. Candidates are not expected either to know or to estimate actual costs but should demonstrate that they are aware of cost implications. For example, candidates recommending the complete resurfacing of a site roadway because of a small pothole, without commenting on its overall condition, will receive low marks.
If training is recommended as a solution to a problem, candidates should indicate if this is likely to require a few hours of work-based instruction or several days of more costly off-the-job training. It is the assessment of magnitude of the cost that is important, rather than precise figures, eg candidates may refer to the number of worker hours as a measure of cost.
Recommendations must be prioritized. The most pressing issues, those which present the highest risk levels and those that can be done immediately at little or no cost, should be addressed first. Target date should be included, for example, ‘plus one week’ or ‘plus three months’.
If none of the criteria to award marks is met, then zero marks will be awarded.
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