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Should I Take IOSH or NEBOSH?


The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) are both internationally acclaimed providers of health and safety qualifications. So, what exactly do they do, and what makes them different?

What is IOSH?

IOSH is a leading health and safety body who develop training courses for individuals and organisations. They offer qualifications for all levels of competence, from employees who encounter risk during their work life to health and safety professionals at the top of their field.

IOSH (like NEBOSH) do not actually provide training courses. Rather, they design programs, assessments and examinations for IOSH accredited training providers to deliver. IOSH is more of a regulatory body than a training provider – licensed providers are trained to IOSH standard before being approved. IOSH offers accredited training in the following categories:

  • Leading Safely: This course seeks to inform of the necessity of integrating health and safety practices into a business’s management system

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  • Managing Safely: This program is aims to equip managers, supervisors and leaders with the knowledge they need to ensure the safety and health of their team

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  • Working Safely: This course is an essential introduction to safety in the workplace teaching workers of all levels how to take practical steps to limit potential hazards

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So, what differentiates IOSH and NEBOSH? With over 46,000 members, IOSH is the only chartered body for health and safety professionals. They offer a membership structure that NEBOSH does not, whereby graduates of IOSH accredited courses gain a membership status that corresponds to their level of expertise in the health and safety field. The membership framework is as follows:

  • Affiliate Member: There are no specific requirements that you need to meet to become an affiliate member - paying a membership fee gives you access to your local IOSH branch.

  • Associate Member (AIOSH): Anyone who has gained an IOSH qualification can become a member at associate level. This membership is for non-health and safety personnel whose job entails the management of risk.

  • Technical Member (Tech IOSH): To become a technical member of IOSH, you need experience in a health and safety role. Members are required to periodically undertake Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to address skill gaps.

  • Graduate Member (Grad IOSH): This is a study rather than an experience-based qualification. Graduates are required to have passed the relevant degrees and must keep up to date with CPD.

  • Chartered Member (CMIOSH): This is the highest qualification for health and safety professionals. Membership requires the completion of various qualifications, as well as a skills development portfolio (SDP) and peer review.

What is NEBOSH?

NEBOSH offers internationally recognised qualifications designed to ensure health, safety and environmental management standards in the workplace. Their certified courses are offered by 600 providers, and deliver services to more than 50,000 clients annually.

Like IOSH, NEBOSH does not deliver courses, but designs syllabuses and sets methods of assessment for NEBOSH accredited trainers to provide to clients. NEBOSH assessments are set by qualified staff and assisted by external examiners from Chartered Safety and Health Practitioners, and their technical standards are overseen by a Qualification Governance Council.

There are NEBOSH qualifications for all competence levels. They provide courses for non-health and safety personnel (the National Certificate in Construction Health and Safety, for example, is a supplementary course for construction workers), to courses geared towards those pursuing a career in health and safety. NEBOSH qualifications are delivered in the following categories:

  • Award: Award-level qualifications provide a basic overview of health and safety practices and are an introduction to more in depth NEBOSH qualifications

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  • Certificate: Certificate-level qualifications offer a foundation in health and safety for managers and supervisors, as well as people starting out in a career in health and safety

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  • Diploma: Diploma level qualifications are rigorous courses for healthcare professionals and environmental practitioners

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NEBOSH does not implement the membership structure of IOSH. In fact, completion of NEBOSH accredited courses can support an IOSH membership application – a NEBOSH certificate can be submitted to IOSH, along with other criteria, to deem whether a prospective member is eligible. For instance, a completed NEBOSH Certificate qualifies you to a Technical Membership of IOSH, and a NEBOSH Diploma enables Chartered membership of IOSH.

IOSH and NEBOSH correspond on many levels but are ultimately doing different things. With more than 90% of health and safety jobs requiring licensed training from one of these bodies, however, a certification from either will be invaluable for the health and safety competence of you and/or your organisation.

Last updated: 18 Jun 2018

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