5 Useful Guides & Books To Read Before Taking The NEBOSH General Certificate

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Be prepared for the NEBOSH National General Certificate and get some context about the course with our recommended revision reads.

The NEBOSH General Certificate helps you to positively influence your health and safety culture at work. You’re excited to get started, so why wait?

Here’s some bedtime reading to whet your appetite and prepare your mind for the qualification.

Key points:

  • Whatever you choose to read, make sure it’s relevant to NEBSOH and reflective of the current syllabus
  • Show your trainer any materials outside of the syllabus and discuss how it’ll help your studies
  • Subscribe to official bodies, like the HSE, to make sure any peripheral information you take in is lawful and relevant to the UK

Download your free guide to the NEBOSH General Certificate

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Study book checklist

The best NEBOSH study books will help you to pass your exams, but they’re expensive so you need to invest wisely. Whether you’re buying a textbook or a NEBOSH audiobook, check what you’re buying will support your studies:

  • Does it cover the most up to date syllabus?
  • Is there a revision guide included?
  • Are there practical examples and mock questions to help you learn?
  • Does the publisher have a back catalogue of health and safety titles?
  • Is the writer well-known in health and safety, or qualified and endorsed by NEBOSH?
  • What do the reviews say? Do other learners rate the content?

#1. The NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus free online guide

Let’s start with your course bible. The new NEBOSH General Certificate course covers 11 elements split into two modules (NG1 and NG2). Read the full breakdown of the syllabus here.

The syllabus is a step-by-step reveal of what’s to come – why we should manage health and safety in the workplace, through to hazard spotting. 

It doesn’t just tell you what’s in the course, but it also explains how you’ll benefit from it.

#2. Assessment pack for NG2 – free download

practical risk assessment (NG2) looms at the end of the course. There’s no need to lose any sleep over it, especially with the NEBOSH assessment pack.

It’s a 19-pager tells you how and where to do the assessment, and towards the end, explains the marking criteria and the results. It’s a must-read.

NEBOSH breaks it down into four stages of assessment:

  1. Description of the organisation and methodology – the whats, whens and wheres of the hazard
  2. Risk assessment – hazard categories, who could be harmed, controls and timescales
  3. Priorities (3 actions with justifications) – three high-priority actions with moral, legal and fiscal justification
  4. Review, communicate and check – setting the review date, how you’ll tell your colleagues about the findings of the risk assessment and how you’ll follow it up

You’ll get a sense of how methodical and detail-orientated risk assessments are. You’ll go into the training with your critical eyes open to risks and hazards.

#3. The HSE manual handling guide – free download

Manual handling features throughout the NEBOSH General Certificate course, so it’s worth dipping into the official advice from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in its manual handling guide.

In element 3: Managing risk – understanding people and processes, you start looking at manual handling as a risk control exercise, but it comes into its own during element 6: Musculoskeletal health.

You’ll talk about the common types of manual handling injuries, plus how to manually lift loads safely and how to control risk by critically looking at the task.

#4. HSE’s health and safety statistics for 2021/22 – free online guide

The HSE has released its health and safety stats for 2021/22 – it refreshes the data every year.

Don’t worry, it’s not a long-winded report. The infographic shows you the full extent of workplace injuries and illnesses.

Why should you read it? It’s all context that’ll explain why the course syllabus is built the way it is.

Take a close look at:

  • Psychological health, covered in element 5: How many sick days were caused by stress, depression, anxiety and poor mental health?
  • Physical health, covered in element 5: How many sick days were work-related?
  • Chemical agents, covered in element 7: The number of deaths related to asbestos

#5. Failure of risk management

Moving away from NEBOSH, ‘Failure of risk management‘ is an engaging 270-page turner about ‘which risk analysis methods work, which don’t, and how to tell the difference‘.

It’s wider reading that’s not critical for the course, but it’s a reliable introduction to the problems faced by risk managers.

It was penned just before the 2008 financial crisis by consultant Douglas Hubbard, who wanted it to be ‘relevant after the next big natural disaster, major product safety recall, or catastrophic industry accident.

It balances your point of view. You’ll see risk assessment and all its flaws in a global context.

There are two chapters that focus on measuring uncertainty and risk too which will give more dimension to your 5×5 risk calculator and assessment.

What will you take from it?

NEBOSH’s principles will help you to manage your health and safety and safeguard your company against risk, but it’s not the only way of doing it. For example, we provide health and safety training from numerous other awarding bodies, IOSH and Highfield to name just two others.

  • Part one introduces you to risk management, crisis, the history of risk management and what’s an acceptable method of risk assessment.
  • Part two explores why risk assessment is broken and how we view risks (as expected losses, or as a good thing).
  • The final part discusses how to fix risk assessment, which again, brings your attention outside of your workplace.

NEBOSH textbooks and revision guides – paid study book

If you’ve already booked your NEBOSH course, the fee covers all your course materials and your trainer, who’s a NEBOSH expert.

  • You’ve already secured the most up-to-date course books, so shouldn’t need to invest in NEBOSH relics.
  • You can also download our NEBOSH revision guide and read our NEBOSH exam blog to get our head of health and safety’s techniques and tips.
  • We update both annually so our learners are never out of touch with the current NEBOSH syllabus and best practice.
  • The health and safety landscape is constantly changing and unlike digital publications, textbooks aren’t easily corrected.
  • If you do buy a copy of the introduction or the revision guide, take the info about legislation and references to best practice with a pinch of salt – it might not reflect what’s relevant to health and safety in 2020.
  • If you aren’t sure about the information on its pages, check with your trainer or cross-check it with the NEBOSH website.


[1]23.5 million working days lost due to work-related ill health, 29% of which were attributed to musculoskeletal disorders = 29% of 2350000 = 681,500 sick days.

Get started by downloading your free guide to the NEBOSH General Certificate today

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Matthew Channell
Matthew is TSW Training’s Commercial Director. He writes about performance focussed learning, leadership, and management approaches that have real-world, sustainable impact.
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