7. based on the scenario only how can societal factors influence health and safety priorities in bricks to homes

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NEBOSH International Diploma for Occupational Health and Safety Management Professionals


Guidance to learners

There are two question papers for this assessment. This paper (Paper 1 of 2) contains the following assessment part:

  • Part 1 contains questions based on a fictitious scenario (150 available marks). All the tasks and activities in all parts of the assessment are mandatory.

Part 1: Scenario-based questions
The examination begins with a scenario to set the scene. You will then need to complete a series of tasks based on this scenario. Each task will consist of one or more questions. Your responses to most of these tasks should wholly, or partly, draw on relevant information from the scenario. The task will clearly state the extent to which this is required.

The marks available are shown in brackets to the right of each question, or part of each question. This will help guide you to the amount of information required in your response. In general, one mark is given for each correct technical point that is clearly demonstrated. Avoid writing too little as this will make it difficult for the Examiner to award marks. Single word answers or lists are unlikely to gain marks as this would not normally be enough to show understanding or a connection with the scenario.

Please attempt ALL tasks.

An award-winning, medium-sized construction company called ‘Bricks to Homes’ is currently involved in numerous national housing development projects. They are known for building well-designed energy-efficient family homes with attractive landscaping. They frequently exceed recognised industry standards and legislative requirements. You are the organisation’s health and safety adviser.

The chief executive officer (CEO) leads a Senior Management Team (SMT) which also includes directors of each department, such as Development and Human Resources (HR). They intend to reduce their carbon footprint and are proud of their social and environmental actions. Within the Development department is a team of three building project managers, four regional health and safety officers (RHSO) and twenty supervisors (SVs), one for each housing development construction site.

‘Bricks to Homes’ also uses many contractors (who also use sub-contractors) who are paid fairly for each completed project. They work long hours each day, often working outside their normal hours. Some of the construction sites offer short periods of work experience for young construction students from various ethnic minority and white British groups.

The organisation’s turnover for the previous financial year was £20 million. Recently, they have had to raise their prices due to the rising cost of materials. This has reduced profit margins to 3%. Some of the building materials used are imported from responsible supply chain manufacturers.

The CEO wants ‘Bricks to Homes’ to stand out from competitors, and sees health and safety as a clear differentiator when it comes to contracts being awarded and retaining skilled workers. The CEO is also keen to change the balance of genders within the workforce. They regularly support local communities by donating money to charities and community projects.

The roads surrounding the construction sites are kept free of the mud/debris produced by construction. Road closures are kept to a minimum and major deliveries are scheduled during the day. The organisation arranges social events for new residents, as well as a free gardening service while other surrounding construction activities continue.

A mandatory weekly visual inspection is carried out by the SV on each site, checking that common hazards are well controlled. This is usually done once workers have left the site – to check the site has been left in a safe state. Over the past two years, significant investment has been made to introduce handheld electronic devices to aid recording of these inspections. The person carrying out the inspection completes a simple ‘yes/no’ checklist, with a general comments box at the end to record any additional information. Once completed, the inspection findings are automatically uploaded to a central database which can be reviewed by you and the SMT.

Workers do not normally have access to the inspection findings. If an inspection is missed, the system will automatically notify the RHSO’s who will then make sure that the check is completed as soon as possible. A reward scheme was recently set up for all sites that achieve over 95% compliance on their weekly inspections. A similar reward scheme operates in relation to sites with the fewest accidents.

Recently, one of the SVs has told you, in confidence, that some SVs complete and submit their inspection checklists without properly checking the site. In some cases, they submit the checklist without even doing the inspection. Some SVs delegate the inspection to other workers who have not been involved before.

‘Bricks to Homes’ has regular safety campaigns. A previous campaign, carried out over 2 years, targeted ‘slips and trips’. By the end of the campaign, there had been a 20% decrease in accident frequency rates. The SMT was very happy with this outcome.

Despite this recent success with the ‘slips and trips’ campaign, there is still room for improvement. For example, workers seem to constantly be walking in a hurry and do not always use designated walkways around the site.

More recently, in response to compensation claims and an attempt to reduce insurance premiums, a campaign targeting musculoskeletal health had been launched. Simple mechanical aids were introduced to help with heavy lifting. Posters were placed around sites displaying information on how to lift safely. However, after this campaign, working days lost due to musculoskeletal disorders increased by 7% over the same period across the sites. Absences ranged from two days to six weeks. In some cases, temporary workers had to be recruited by SVs to avoid long delays in building works. These temporary workers received ‘on-the-job’ training.

Over the last year, the organisation has received two simple cautions from enforcement officers concerning musculoskeletal risks. Four weeks ago, an improvement notice was issued for failing to have an adequate risk assessment for manual handling activities on one of the sites.

On one of the sites, a newly recruited construction worker injured their back and had to take a week off work to recover. The worker had been stacking heavy timber posts (a task that required two workers), when they felt a sudden pain in their back. They were sent home in a taxi and later diagnosed with a back injury. They were told to take at least two weeks off work. However, they returned to full-time work after a week.

During the end of their first shift back at work, the site SV said that the work was behind schedule and asked the worker to move a stack of timber posts. The SV then walked away, leaving them to complete the task alone. The worker still had some pain from their previous back injury and was not quite sure of the best way to lift without causing further injury. They also feared what other workers might think of them, so they started to move the timber. However, sudden and extreme pain caused them to drop one of the timber posts, which landed on their foot. The worker was in too much pain to move so they called for an ambulance using their mobile telephone. They also tried to call the SV to tell them about the accident and left a message as the SV did not answer the call.

The ambulance took the worker to hospital where they were diagnosed with a significant back injury and a fracture to their right foot. The worker was hospitalised for two weeks. They started physiotherapy but this was unsuccessful, so the worker retired due to ill-health.

The CEO was not happy about this accident, especially considering there had been a specific campaign on musculoskeletal health. The CEO said that they wanted to prevent recurrence of these types of incidents and wanted you to present a plan for a new, more effective musculoskeletal risks campaign. The accident investigation report was missing from the central accident database.

A new campaign
As a start to your plan, you decide to analyse the only two sources of available data – inspection findings and accident reports. Your analysis confirms an ongoing lack of control of manual handing risks on most of the sites.

You also consider that, to maximise the campaign’s success, you need to improve consultation arrangements across all sites.

You meet with the SMT and outline your initial plans. The team sees value in your suggestions but tells you that you will need to present a clear business case, demonstrating the potential costs and benefits.

Two weeks later, you present the business case to the SMT. The business case includes recently supplied figures from the insurance company, showing that they have paid out more than £120 000 in claims from your fellow workers, due to musculoskeletal injuries over the last twelve months.  As a result, the insurance premiums have risen steeply. Although there are still some concerns expressed about investing in another campaign in the current economic climate, the SMT approves the business case.

The next stage is to develop a communication and implementation plan. You produce a draft plan but are keen to get the views of others before it is finalised. The draft plan includes manual handling training schedules for all workers and senior management in the same sessions. Accordingly, you arrange a meeting with the four RHSOs and the HR Manager to share your proposals and the draft plan.

In the meeting, you initially meet significant opposition to your proposal. The attendees argue that the construction industry is inherently dangerous; the number of accidents and accident severity rates has reduced and are currently better than many in the industry; it would be very difficult to reduce these further. The attendees think that the generic manual handling risk assessments are adequate and blame some of the sub-contractors for the recent enforcement action. They conclude that it would be a waste of effort and a distraction to launch yet another campaign. Despite this, you go on to explain the advantages of reducing ill-health and reiterate that a joint approach will bring great benefits. You manage to persuade three of the RHSOs and the HR manager of the merits of your proposal. However, the fourth RHSO remains opposed. They believe that a more effective approach is to issue written warnings to any worker found not following the rules, and persistent offenders should be dismissed. The RHSO also adds that workers know that the mechanical aids are there, so they should use them.

After the meeting, you decide to consult more widely. As there are no upcoming safety committee meetings, you present your proposals at several site visits and organisational health and safety meetings. During these site visits you are encouraged that there are designated areas for recyclable materials in labelled waste containers around the sites.

The meetings include SVs from each site, health and safety representatives from several large sub- contractors / contractors used by the ‘Bricks to Homes’, and the sites that have an elected health and safety worker representative. Your proposals were generally well-received. Indeed, one health and safety worker representative asks if they can get involved with the implementation. However, another representative disagrees and suggests that getting workers and representatives involved is doing management’s job. You then decide to plan training sessions for the elected health and safety worker representatives on how to carry out workplace inspections and highlight that this will be part of their paid work.

During your discussions with workers, you also gather further information about what realistically happens on each site. A particular point raised is the problems with the inspection checklist itself and how it might require updating. You ask if any of the workers want to help with the development of the inspection checklist and some of the workers volunteer as they have never used it before.

It is clear that health issues do not appear to be given the same priority on a day-to-day basis as safety issues. When asked direct questions about health, several construction workers start to share examples of how their health has been affected by their work. They tell you how repeated lifting of building materials by hand has led to lower back and knee pain. One worker says, “You can’t do anything about moving bricks by hand as it is part of the job, so we don’t bother reporting any injuries. If we don’t move the bricks by hand, we will not be able to get the job done in time and that gets us into trouble with management. We are supposed to have mechanical aids, but I don’t know where they are kept.”

Another worker states, “What is the point of carrying out inspections when we have all left the site? We have raised issues like this before but nothing changes with management.”

A bricklayer says, “We have not had much involvement in the previous health campaigns. We are just expected to read posters, but we are never asked what would make our job safer… I continuously bend to pick up and place bricks and apply mortar.”

The SVs agree that it will be difficult to get workers to take any new initiatives seriously with their tight deadlines. Training records show that many manual handling training sessions set up previously have been cancelled. You encourage the SVs to set up regular toolbox talks to discuss any manual handling issues. One of the SVs goes on to tell you that they recently witnessed a worker trip over materials left on the floor. As no one was injured the SV did not report the incident. The SV also felt the inspection was a waste of time and was done to keep the SMT happy.

When talking to contractors, they express concerns that any further checks will slow down completion of projects and increase costs.

On returning to the office the following week you start to arrange some further site visits to analyse some of the manual handling tasks the workers regularly carry out. You send out an electronic questionnaire to all sites and ask for these to be completed as soon as possible. Two days later you receive some encouraging responses to the questionnaires, that include suggestions on how manual handling can be improved.

You are then notified of a site inspection report which has been completed during the day when workers are on site. It has been submitted by one of the workers who wanted to get involved in developing the inspection checklist. The report shows wide-spread areas of non-compliance. You later discover that the worker has been disciplined by their SV for submitting the report.

Task 1: Financial justification to aid decision making


(a) Using financial arguments, make a case to persuade the senior management team (SMT) to invest in the proposed health campaign.


Note: You should support your answer, where applicable, using relevant information from the scenario.

(b) What revenue would the organisation need to maintain profit and cover losses?


Use calculations to support your answer.


(c) The proposed health campaign requires an investment of £150 000. You estimate the benefit (cost savings) it will bring are £200 000 per year. The project will be in place for 2 years.


Calculate the payback period.


Note: Your answer should include detailed working to show how the payback period is calculated.

Task 2: Understanding of the role of consultation


Comment on how the consultation was managed effectively for the new health campaign.


Note: You should support your answer, where applicable, using relevant information from the scenario.

Task 3: Measuring and monitoring

3. It is the SMT’s view that ‘the reduction in accident frequency rate alone clearly indicates that the ‘slips and trips’ campaign was a success’.

(a) Discuss possible limitations of this view.  


Note: You should support your answers, where applicable, using relevant information from the scenario.

(b) Discuss possible merits of this view.                                                                                                                                           (3)

Task 4: Measuring and monitoring

4. As the health and safety adviser, you want to improve manual handling safety. To do this they need to proactively monitor the activities.

Justify FOUR leading indicators that would help ‘Bricks to Homes’ achieve this.                                                                               (8)

Task 5: Measuring and monitoring

5. Comment on the effectiveness of site inspections in monitoring health and safety performance at ‘Bricks to Homes’.



Task 6: Corporate social responsibility (CSR)


(a) How well does ‘Bricks to Homes’ demonstrate CSR?


Note: You should support your answer, where applicable, using relevant information from the scenario.

(b) The CEO is keen to improve their CSR strategy.


Based on the scenario only, what advice can you give to the CEO on how this can be improved?


Task 7:Societal factors

7             Based on the scenario only, how can societal factors influence health and safety priorities in ‘Bricks to Homes’?



Task 8: Violations and human failure (HSG48)


(a) Based on the scenario only, identify the different types of violations made by EACH of the individuals AND give a practical example for EACH violation.


Note: You should support your answer, where applicable, using relevant information from the scenario.


(b) Based on the scenario only, explain why organisational factors led to violations occurring?


Task 9: Role of health and safety legislation


(a) What is the role of health and safety legislation in the workplace?


(b) The injured worker suffered a fractured foot and a back injury when handling the timber posts. The worker decides to sue ‘Bricks to Homes’ for the injuries received.


Assuming that a judge rules in favour of the worker, what damages is the injured worker likely to receive?


Note: You should support your answer, where applicable, using relevant information from the scenario.

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