Bath and North East Somerset Council

How International Workplace brought NEBOSH to life for Bath and North East Somerset Council

Introduction

Bath & North East Somerset Council is a unitary authority covering the World Heritage City of Bath and also towns such as Keynsham, Midsomer Norton, and Radstock, villages such as Peasedown St John, and rural areas such as the Chew Valley. The council’s purpose, as set out in its Corporate Strategy, is “improving people’s lives”.

Tracy Curtis is the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Senior Manager at Bath & North East Somerset Council, and Nicola Valentine is the council’s Health, Safety and Wellbeing Consultant. Together, they explain how International Workplace has run a two-week National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) National General Certificate course with the council in order to help their employees improve their professional development and understand the importance of health and safety across the council.

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The reason behind undertaking the course

Tracy Curtis:

"I'm really proud to say that we take health, safety and wellbeing roles and training really seriously at Bath & North East Somerset Council. Our Senior Management team complete IOSH Leading Safely and our managers complete IOSH Managing Safely, but we're really pushing the NEBOSH qualification for professional competence and to manage high risk activities. Undertaking these qualifications supports our policy work on tackling violence and aggression against our staff and the campaign we have launched to raise awareness of this. The full Council also recently signed up to the LGA “Debate not Hate” campaign, which aims to improve the response and support for local councillors facing abuse and intimidation."

Nicola Valentine:

"We had quite a few colleagues in the council who met the criteria we set to have the NEBOSH qualification, so we decided to run a course specifically for our own employees. We already use International Workplace for IOSH Managing Safety licences so we knew we would get a good experience. We ran the course in November 2023, and we had Jamie as our trainer, who is brilliant."

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"Our trainer, Jamie, had a great way of bringing people into the training, he never left anyone out. He was always consciously trying to involve everybody in any conversation we were having. "

Nicola Valentine, Health, Safety and Wellbeing Consultant

Undertaking the course

Nicola Valentine:

"We opted to do the training in a two-week block, and we said to everyone on the course ‘Pretend you’re on holiday and don’t let anybody disturb you from your course’. That was really hard for some people, but we wanted them to take it seriously and show our level of support and commitment towards them. I loved it, it wasn't a problem for me to dedicate two-and-a-half weeks to this qualification. It was hard work, but you retain the information so much better when everything is still fresh in your mind.

"Every morning we did a short test on what we'd learned the day before, and Jamie made it so interactive. He always managed to relate everything that he was saying back to what we did. He didn’t just say ‘The health, safety and wellbeing team will sort this’. He said, ‘Well, you're in Heritage Services, so it might work this way. Or you're in a care home, so it might work this way for you.’ So it brought it all back to people's day jobs and that really helps to keep it real.
Jamie has a great way of bringing people into the training, he never left anyone out. He was always consciously trying to involve everybody in any conversation we were having."

Tracy Curtis:

"That was a reason for having a cohort of our own, rather than the public course. Having everybody together for that exact reason, it helped make it real, and colleagues could really share their own experiences and relate to their day jobs."

Nicola Valentine:

"Jamie had a look at our health and safety policy when we covered that area of the course. On the first day, he asked us where we worked, what we did and what we were hoping to get out of the course. He was able to fit that in all the way through the course, in order to make it relevant for everyone. Jamie was always willing to help. We would go off and do our homework in the evening and he would be getting emails from different delegates at 10 o'clock at night, and he would always give feedback. We could tell he really wanted us all to pass. He wasn't just there to deliver his course and get paid for it. We had a phone call from Jamie just this morning to tell us we achieved a 93% pass rate, which is just brilliant."

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How the course makes a difference

Tracy Curtis:

"When I work with managers and colleagues who have completed the NEBOSH qualification, what a difference it makes. We no longer have to explain in detail why we're asking certain things from a health and safety perspective – everybody understands the importance. So many people said that throughout the course they experienced some real lightbulb moments. It's like, ah, “that's why we do what we do”! Which has been wonderful from our point of view as a senior management team.
We can see a big difference in managers who have done the NEBOSH qualification. Whenever we have a cohort of training, I fully expect to receive a great big new action plan coming out of it and am always ready to embrace the enthusiasm from the delegates.

"We’ve now got a waiting list of people who want to do the course because they’ve heard such good feedback about it. We’ve had great aftercare from International Workplace and I very much hope Jamie will be able to teach more of our employees."

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