• Barnett Waddingham
    Barnett Waddingham
  • 5 Minutes With: Ian Cooke, Head of Corporate and Consumer Services at NEBOSH

    In the latest instalment of our HR industry executive interview series we spoke to Ian Cooke, Head of Corporate and Consumer Services at NEBOSH, about the company, the biggest challenges faced by the sector, the opportunities presented by new technology, and health safety as an enabler…

    Tell us about your company, products and services.

    The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) is a leading global organisation, which provides health, safety and environmental qualifications. Our internationally recognised qualifications help to raise the competence of safety and environmental professionals as well as individuals at all levels in the workplace. NEBOSH qualifications are highly respected by governments, employers and our learners.

    NEBOSH also works with businesses to create bespoke learning and assessments. NEBOSH has a long-standing relationship with Great Britain’s Regulator, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and have created a Regulatory Diploma for all their Health and Safety Inspectors. NEBOSH also has created bespoke learning for the likes of BP and the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) and more!

    Since our inception in 1979, almost half a million people from around the world have gained a NEBOSH qualification.

    What have been the biggest challenges NEBOSH or health and safety has faced over the past 12 months?

    • Employer’s responsibilities are continually evolving – the pandemic saw many businesses enable employees to work from home, which has meant that they have had to rethink office-based working and adapting health and safety policies and procedures to agile working.
    • Training and engaging workers remotely – has meant that training has needed to be even more engaging and motivating. There was a significant shift to remote training using digital platforms; this offers the benefits of accessibility but also poses the challenge of ensuring learners are engaged and self-motivated, though everyone has different learning styles and preferences.NEBOSH also undertook a huge transformation in relation to its assessments – many can now be taken remotely which means that our qualifications and assessments are now more accessible to people across the world.
    • Remote working has also significantly impacted individuals’ mental health and wellbeing – According to a survey carried out in 2021, by the Royal Society for Public Health, people who switched to working from home during the pandemic had experienced some impact, with the most common being feeling less connected to colleagues (67%), taking less exercise (46%) and developing musculoskeletal problems (39%). Employers need to look at implementing effective tools to support the wellbeing and mental health of their staff amid new challenging circumstances.

    And what have been the biggest opportunities?

    Within the health and safety world there is a huge opportunity to seize the moment as the world looks to HSE professionals to ensure we are all healthy and safe whilst we work.

    NEBOSH has been busy recognising the concern businesses have for the mental health and wellbeing of their employees, NEBOSH launched its Working with Wellbeing award-level qualification, during the pandemic to help employers to influence employee wellbeing proactively and effectively.

    With the rise in musculoskeletal problems, NEBOSH also worked with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and launched another joint qualification this year, the NEBOSH HSE Certificate in Manual Handling Risk Assessment. Which is a one-day qualification, that will help businesses to identify and assess manual handling risk, and more importantly, prioritise controls to protect workers.

    What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

    Improvement in technologies that allows continual improvement to learning delivery and effectiveness. NEBOSH explored technologies and launched this year the NEBOSH IIRSM Certificate in Managing Risk, which is its first ever qualification available exclusively online through NEBOSH’s own e-learning platform.

    I also think mobile technology will evolve to deliver some smaller simpler learning for in-company training but also compliment longer higher-level learning programmes. By being accessible it makes it easier for learners to carry it out in their own time, whilst juggling their busy lives.

    What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

    Working for NEBOSH gives me access to so many health and safety professionals, from its Learning Partners to its Alumni members across the world who are all working towards the same goal, to reduce incidents and save lives in the workplace. I truly feel lucky to have a job that is linked to such a positive outcome.

    And what’s been the most challenging?

    COVID 19!

    What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

    Health and safety allows you to do it.

    To put this in context, during my early years in health and safety many people seemed to have the view that health and safety professionals tried to stop you from doing something, but I have watched the profession shift this perception, health and safety is now seen as more of an enabler for organisations, whilst being much safer and healthier.

    If you would like to find out more about NEBOSH, visit our website: https://www.nebosh.org.uk/home/


    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien

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