Wherever possible, you are expected to base your assignment on your own workplace. It is your responsibility to arrange an alternative workplace if your own is unavailable or unsuitable. It is not acceptable to complete an assignment about a fictitious workplace.
First, carry out a review of your workplace and identify a range of occupational health hazards that may be present. From there, you must select one which will be the focus for your assignment. You must give a clear justification for your selection, based on the importance of the hazard for your workplace and the potential benefits from controlling it.
Next, research the history of the occupational health hazard you have selected for study: for example, when and how it became recognised as a hazard, what is known about its potential health effects, measures that have been used to minimise the risks it poses to health, relevant legislation, regulatory requirements and employers’ responsibilities. Remember that all sources have to be acknowledged and properly referenced, so make sure you keep a record of where you found each piece of information.
Using any appropriate method, conduct a thorough assessment of the risks to health posed in your workplace by the hazard you have selected. This assessment should draw on the background research you have conducted and will substantiate your justification for its selection.
For certain hazards, there are regulatory requirements for a specific assessment, for example, Chemical Risk Assessment and DSE. If the hazard you have selected carries such a regulatory requirement you should conduct the appropriate assessment and append it to your report.
Identify a range of additional control measures, or improvements to existing control measures, and investigate their advantages and disadvantages. Identify key control measures and investigate their costs and benefits, as well as their limitations.
The assignment report should be presented in seven parts:
A contents page should be included to show the headings for each part of the report and its corresponding page number. The assignment report should then include an executive summary of no more than one page, which should summarise the whole report, with a brief description of the workplace and the main conclusions and recommendations for measures to control the risks to health from the hazard identified.
From the summary alone someone familiar with occupational health issues should be able to envisage the workplace and its activities, understand the hazards described and appreciate the costs and benefits of the control measures proposed.
Keep in mind that the examiner will not be familiar with your particular workplace or with the activities involved. Give a clear description of both the workplace and the activities, together with sufficient relevant background information to allow the examiner to understand the occupational health issues in context. At the same time, you should avoid the temptation to describe every aspect of the company or organisation. Focus your description of the aspects of the workplace and the activities that are relevant to the assignment.
Give a brief description of a range of occupational health hazards relevant to your workplace and to the activities described in Part 2. Then present a justification for your selection of the one hazard on which the assignment is based.
Describe your findings from researching the hazard you have selected for study, including its history, its potential health effects, legislation, regulatory requirements and employers’ responsibilities in respect of the hazard. You must include the reference to all sources, printed or electronic.
Describe your assessment of the risks to health from the occupational health hazard you have selected, as they apply in your workplace. If you have conducted a specific assessment as required by regulations (e.g. a Chemical Risk assessment), it should be included as an appendix and referred to in the main body of the report. If an assessment has been undertaken by an external specialist (e.g. noise, vibration, legionella sampling) you may refer to its findings in your report, but should not rely on it as your sole assessment. Naturally, your assessment of risks should include an evaluation of any existing control measures.
Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a range of additional control measures, or improvements to existing control measures. Identify key control measures and explain their projected costs and expected benefits, including reference to their limitations. You may make reasonable assumptions about the associated costs.
You must include a comprehensive bibliography (including titles, authors, dates of publication and page numbers of all printed sources referenced, or website details of internet sources, with URLs and dates accessed).