NEBOSH Diploma: taking health & safety to the next level

David Hourahine, Health & Safety Manager at Tata Steel, trained for the NEBOSH General Certificate and NEBOSH Diploma with Capital People. We’ve asked him a few questions about his experience.

What role were you working in prior to taking this qualification?

I was working for Tata Steel as a health and safety facilitator at Llanwern, a satellite business to the Port Talbot steelworks.

I first got into the steel industry in 1996, after working for a bank. These are very different sectors, requiring different sets of skills. Thanks to my previous customer service experience, I was identified by Tata’s union to become a safety representative just a few years after I joined the company. I was then promoted as team leader, and as such, was required to pass an IOSH Managing Safely health and safety course.

A few years later, I passed the NEBOSH General Certificate. It helped me move from a front-line operational role, to join Tata’s Manufacturing Support team as a facilitator. During this time, I passed NVQ level 5 before preparing for the NEBOSH Diploma.

What made you decide to study for this qualification?

Every qualification I’ve passed has opened a door for me, but the NEBOSH Diploma is next level. My line manager at the time said it was the best thing he had ever done and encouraged every member of the team to study for it. It was a prerequisite, to progress from safety facilitator, to advisor, to manager.

The Diploma is the health and safety equivalent of the Knowledge test for taxi drivers in London. It is the definitive course for health and safety professionals. The exam covers such a broad spectrum – you may not remember it all after you passed, but whatever situation you are faced with, you will know what is right or wrong and where to retrieve the information you need.

What were the main challenges in studying this qualification?

The Diploma is a very demanding set of exams: the amount of study needed is huge and revisions are intense. It also takes stamina – effectively preparing a full degree in 18 months, from start to finish.

It requires studying every day for the 3 months that precede each exam, so I had to make some concessions – like giving up cycling. But it was all worth it, because on the day, you can’t bluff it.

That’s why it’s so important to learn not only intensely, but also efficiently. The techniques we learnt during Capital People training sessions were just as helpful as the knowledge itself.

What was the best part of the training?

For anyone with a vocation in health and safety, understanding the practical elements behind the legislation is eye opening. The Diploma unlocks career opportunities, but the training itself is a journey of initiation.

Straight away, I was able to start using in work what I had learnt in training. Several colleagues at Tata Steel had already passed the exam, but there’s always something to improve in health and safety, so every person trained brings new input.

It’s hard to choose the best part of the training because what I enjoyed most is how comprehensive it was – covering theory and practice, time management, revising and answering techniques.

What advice would you give to people studying for this qualification?

Don’t fear it. It is difficult, so give it the time it deserves and hit the ground running from day one, but try your best to enjoy it.

The feeling of satisfaction and the level of confidence that you get from going through all the elements of health and safety legislation and application in the UK is wonderful. It comes with a sense of standing in your own peer group.

How has this achievement changed your career?

Since passing the NEBOSH Diploma, I have been appointed as health and safety manager in the second biggest Tata steelworks in the UK. I now manage over 600 personnel and my role has grown more strategic – setting policy and standards to foster a strong health and safety culture on the sites where I used to do front line safety.

I have become a chartered member of IOSH, and a NEBOSH examiner – the training has inspired me to give something back. It has also given me a renewed taste for studying, and I am considering my next learning path. But I don’t want to rush it: there is still so much I have learnt that I am currently consolidating and applying to my workplace.

How did you find the learning experience with Capital?

The quality of Capital People’s training is second to none. The team pays great attention to detail, and the support material is excellent and regularly updated.

Mark has come up through the ranks and the real-life experience that he brings to the subject, from working within various organisations, is incredible. It takes a lot to impress me but when I sit down with Mark, I admire the wealth of his academic and practical knowledge in health and safety and project management.

When it comes to the food and facilities, I’d quite happily take my other half for dinner at Capital’s offices. The freshly cooked food is exceptional, and I would regularly pass on compliments to the chef. At all levels, Capital People offers a relaxed environment for learning and I would not use any other provider.


Why Capital People?

Capital People Consultants have been awarded the NEBOSH Gold Learning Partner status, as a testament to the high quality of our training programme. Our expert trainers combine their coaching work with advisory and consultancy services, allowing delegates to benefit from current and practical experience. As a result, our exam pass rates far exceed national averages.

We offer a range of NEBOSH and IOSH courses at our accredited training centre in South Wales – conveniently in Cardiff city centre, just a 15-minute walk from Cardiff Central train station. If you’re just getting started in health and safety, or are looking to progress your career and develop more in-depth knowledge and skills, please contact us at info@capital-people.co.uk