Guest Post from Brian Sumbot, Lead Tutor at Atlas CanAmerica
What is NEBOSH?
The answer to this question is more than just the name. NEBOSH, which stands for the British-based National Examination Board for Occupational Safety and Health is a body that examines and tests your competency in the application of Health Security Safety and Environment (HSSE).
NEBOSH was formed in 1979 as an awarding body with charitable status, offering a comprehensive range of globally-recognized, qualifications designed to meet the health, safety and environmental management needs of all workplaces.
Courses leading to NEBOSH qualifications attract around 50,000 candidates annually and are offered by over 600 course providers, with exams taken in over 110 countries around the world. In 2014, NEBOSH was awarded Britain’s highest accolade for trade success, the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, for their “outstanding achievement” in International Trade.
NEBOSH qualifications are recognised by the relevant professional membership bodies including the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management (IIRSM) and the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM).
Click here to visit the History of NEBOSH microsite celebrating over 30 years of NEBOSH.
So, when it comes to those HSSE practitioners based in North America, what benefit is there in being NEBOSH certified? When it comes HSSE management, every organization in the world, big or small, can attribute its success or failure based on the quality of its “Safety Culture”. This is a very simplistic answer that merits clarification…
I am a Petroleum Engineering Technologist and have worked in the upstream oil and gas for over 40 years. About 7 years ago I was invited by a consulting company to go to Yemen and provide safety support to a drilling contractor working in the desert. The safety department had been ‘beefed up’ as a consequence of a fatality the previous year. I was selected not because of my HSSE credentials, which I did not have, but rather it was based on my ‘hands on’ practical experience working on rigs while in my younger years. The experience was a short 28 days, but it opened my eyes to a whole new reality regarding safety, and how it is implemented within an organization.
While on this short project, I was exposed to all of the negative conditions that I had once worked through and improved in my workplace. As a result I saw an opportunity to apply my many years of ‘hands on’ experience in a manner that would benefit other people doing similar high-risk work. It inspired in me a desire to do more HSSE consulting. I wanted to do it in the international arena, but I quickly faced a dilemma. A dilemma that I am sure many who come into the safety industry from a practical technical application (as was my case) are faced with. That dilemma was a lack of HSSE credentials – I had lots of competency, but no credentials. At first I started working on gaining some local accreditation’s, such as NCSO, CRSP to name a couple, but I soon learned that they are not recognized outside of North America. In my search I kept running into that six lettered acronym, NEBOSH.
Then one, day while doing my daily job hunt on the web I hit upon an advertisement for the NEBOSH IOGC in Manchester, England. The price was right, and as it turned out, I had some friends in Manchester who could put me up at a reasonable price. All I needed to do was pay the tuition and my plane fare. So I went to Britain some 4 years ago and initiated my NEBOSH Certificate training. At first I thought it would be a boring experience. That my only challenge would be staying awake during the tutorials. Then I would write a token multiple choice exam to which the tutor would correct and give me a gold star and I would get the certificate. A certificate that would validate what I already knew from years of experience.
How wrong I was! I found it engaging, insightful, and relevant to all the work I had ever done in the past. It provided me a systematic approach to put all those years of experience into a standardized framework. A framework that I could communicate easily to anyone who had taken the training. And when I say ‘passed the test’, I mean you actually had to work at passing the test. The test was a hand written essay exam whereby you had to convey on paper, in your own words, answers to questions that demonstrated that you understood more than just the text book answers. You had to demonstrate a solid comprehension of the concepts and their application in such manner it would, if adhered to, improve the “Safety Culture” of any organization you were involved with.
As I was completing the training, I asked the question, “If this is an international credential, why do I have to come all the way over to Britain to take it?” The answer was; “there were very few in North America certified to teach it.” So to cut a long story short, here I am 4 years later – certified to teach NEBOSH courses. I have taught (so far) in the UK, Ireland, Eastern Europe, and North Africa, not to mention Canada and the USA. I teach it because I believe in it. I believe in it because I’m convinced that it can make a difference in any organization. I believe it is an investment – an investment that can save lives, bring peace of mind to the workplace and families and ultimately, financial returns in the bottom line of any business – however difficult these may be to accurately calculate. Simply stated, the value of life and limb. In the weeks to come I will have more to share regarding the merits of NEBOSH accredited training. This is just the beginning.
Author Biography: Brian has over 30 years’ experience in up-stream Oil and Gas and therefore brings a practical, technical, and hands-on comprehension of safety in general. Brian’s background is complimented by his team mate Gabino Leeson – a university graduate in HSSE who was mentored by Brian while he was acting as the Drilling Safety Advisor for Gran Tierra Energy in Argentina, 2010-2011 and has since, acted as advisor/auditor for various international oil and gas operators. Both are committed to the provision of a positive learning experience which can enhance an individual’s ability to succeed, which in turn, leads to an effective and competent application of HSSE knowledge in the workplace. Brian is Lead Tutor at Atlas Can-America and delivers Astutis NEBOSH and IOSH open courses in Houston, Alberta, St John’s, and in-company where requested.