In this post let’s look at some top tips for doing well in the NEBOSH National or International Diploma in Environmental Management project (NDEM2/IDEM2). Generally, in this assignment NEBOSH require that you review an organisation’s environmental management system (EMS). The assignment is required to be approximately 8000 words (although you can go over this level, put perhaps not more than 12,000 words) and must be submitted to NEBOSH electronically. The pass mark for the assignment is 50%.
The NEBOSH practical guide
What you need to do is stated in some detail in the guide that has been produced for the assignment by NEBOSH. You can download it from the resources section of the NEBOSH website for the course CLICK HERE for NDEM2 or CLICK HERE for IDEM2. Technically it is known as ‘Unit NDEM2 or IDEM2: Environmental regulation Assignment Guidance and information for candidates’ but we will call it ‘the guide’!
There are three very top tips:
Read the guide
Read the guide again
Read the guide again many times!
Although what NEBOSH requires seems easy to interpret, in practice there is a very specific format with regards to the requirements of the assessment. I will be referring to ‘the guide’ a lot in this post.
You need a site on which to base your project. In an ideal world this would be your own workplace, or another suitable workplace; or part of a workplace, if the site is big. An ideal workplace would be a ‘goldilocks’ one in that it should not be too big, such that it is too complicated, or not too small such that it will not allow you to collect enough information to complete the report. Look at the guide to give you some idea of what you need to do then you can make your choice of location.
After spending a lot of time getting to grips with the guide, sorry there I go again, it is a good idea to develop a checklist based on what needs to be completed. Thoroughly work through the guide and write down the key information requirements. For example, for the ‘Review and critical analysis of the organisation’s EMS’ NEBOSH provide eight categories of questions that must be answered, for the ‘Environmental objectives and targets’ category the questions are:
- Does the organisation have arrangements in place to establish, review, update and communicate its environmental objectives and targets?
- Is the organisation likely to achieve the objectives and targets set?
- Are there plans to achieve or to improve performance against the environmental objectives/targets?
The above and the other question should be a key part of your checklist in addition to the other requirements stated in the guide.
Now you have completed the checklist you need to develop a plan of how you are going to collect the information. Consider in your plan who you will need to speak to in your organisation (interviews), what documents you need to review and what observations that you need to make (for example which parts of the project area will you need to visit). Once completed, you will then need to implement the plan by collecting the information stated on your checklist.
Writing the report
Now that you have collected the data you need to develop the report. Again, NEBOSH are very strict on what they expect. The guide states that the report must consist of the following sections (marks for each section is provided in brackets):
- An executive summary (5).
- An introduction (including background on environmental regulation) (10).
- Review and critical analysis of the organisation’s EMS (40).
- Evaluation of the top three environmental concerns and identification of improvements to be made for each (30).
- Conclusions and recommendations which summarise the main issues identified and lead to justified recommendations (10).
- Bibliography and referencing (0).
- Appendices (0).
An additional 5 marks is available for focus and presentation. The marks available tell us a lot about the importance and amount of information required for each section.
You should always begin with the introduction. This should clearly state the aims, objectives and methodology of data collection in addition to a description of the organisation and any sensitive receptors nearby, such as a conservation area or river. Do not begin with the executive summary (this should be written when all other parts of the report have been completed).
NEBOSH also require that you provide a section on background to regulation. There is very specific guidance on this in the practical guide, so I won’t refer to it here. Don’t write too much for this as it is only worth five marks but do make sure it meets the requirements of the guide.
The next section should be a review and critical analysis of the EMS. This is completed by answering all the questions in the eight categories in section 8.0 of the guide. Make sure that you write in sentences and paragraphs. Each question category is usually worth 4 marks (apart from identification of aspects/impacts and compliance obligations for which there are a maximum of 8 marks available) , this gives you some idea of the amount of text that is needed. This section is very important as it is worth 40 marks out of hundred (40% of the total marks available).
The next part of the report is to carefully choose three weaknesses from the previous section (answers to the section 8.0 questions) and develop an improvement plan. For each improvement NEBOSH are very clear in that they want you write about so you MUST cover:
- Who will be responsible for implementing the improvements?
- What resources are required?
- Is any training required?
- What are the timescales for improvements?
- How will the effectiveness of the improvements be measured, monitored and reported?
- How will lessons be learnt?
There is also a requirement to undertake a cost benefit analysis for each improvement. This does not necessarily have to be quantified. You must make sure however that you specify what advantages (benefit) and disadvantages (costs) implementing your improvement will bring to the organisation. You are essentially providing justification of your three specified improvements.
The next task is to complete the conclusion and recommendations. Conclusions are the key issues identified in addition to moral, legal and economic reasons as to why the key issues should be rectified. You must use information from the previous two sections (never introduce new information in conclusions). You then need to outline some recommendations that are based on improving the three key issues identified earlier. Make a convincing argument for implementing the recommendations by identifying relevant tasks, costings, responsibilities and timescales.
Now, review your report and write the executive summary. This is a summary that should outline all of the report that you have written and not just consist of the recommendations.
Now keep checking and improving your draft report until you are reasonably happy with the content. It is also advisable to perform a gap analysis of your project against the marking criteria in section 10.0 of the guide.
Then insert the appendices at the end and get someone to check it (even if they are a non-specialist).
In my experience the key to producing a good report is planning. If you read and understand the NEBOSH guide, collect the correct information and produce a report to the NEBOSH guide then you should be able to gain a good mark.
John Binns BSc (Hons), MSc, MSc, MIEMA
John Binns BSc (Hons), MSc, MSc, MIEMA
With over 19 years’ experience working in environment management, John Binns BSc (Hons) MSc MIEMA is an experienced environmental tutor and consultant with knowledge of health and safety management.