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Level 6 NVQ Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety Practice

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Level 6 NVQ Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety Practice


This qualification is suitable for individuals whose current role primarily involves the day-to-day management of health and safety. Its purpose is to provide recognition to those who have been promoted to and are already working at (or close to) management level based on practical experience rather than prior academic achievement.

Candidates must have been employed long enough to facilitate the presentation of evidence to verify involvement in work activities typically associated with the role of a health & safety manager.

Candidates can provide evidence in various forms, including written communications (such as emails or memos), documentation (such as paperwork or worksheets), occupational observations (where an assessor observes the candidate performing a work activity), professional discussions (where an assessor questions the candidate to assess competency), or reliable witness testimonies.

This qualification is not intended for candidates with experience at officer level only as such individuals are unlikely to have the level of evidence required to meet the qualification criteria.

FAQs about Level 6 NVQ Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety Practice

The Level 6 NVQ Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety Practice is the highest-level competence-based qualification in the UK and Ireland. It is comparable to a bachelor's degree typically undertaken at a university. It is considered the ideal qualification pathway for those health and safety practitioners who have gained career progression through hands-on experience rather than prior academic achievement. The qualification's primary purpose is to provide recognition for the level at which such individuals currently work.

Related: Level 3 NVQ Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety

To undertake the Level 6 NVQ diploma, the candidate must have already gained a significant level of health and safety experience within a workplace. During the lifespan of the qualification, the candidate will work closely with an assigned assessor to determine how they can evidence this experience. Candidates can generate evidence through any of the below methods:

  • Self-reflective accounts: This is the candidate's interpretation of how they have carried out specific tasks.
  • Witness testimonies: These are statements from an existing or prior colleague detailing a particular task they have witnessed the candidate undertake.
  • Expert witness accounts: These are written statements from a respected health and safety professional detailing a candidate's application of practice that they have witnessed.
  • Questions: These can be directed at the candidate from the assessor to fill any gaps in their knowledge base.
  • Accredited prior achievement or learning: This is training that the candidate may have undertaken that evidences a particular ability set by the qualification.
  • Professional discussion: This is a recorded dialogue between the candidate and the assessor. The assessor may use this to complete any gaps in the performance criteria that may be difficult to observe.

The tangible evidence deciphered from any of the above methods must then be aligned against the criteria detailed within each of the qualifications ten mandatory units. Every criterion within the ten units must be adequately evidenced for the candidate to be awarded the qualification.

Communication with the assessor can be via several methods. This communication may include face-to-face, video call, telephone, or direct messaging either through email or a state-of-the-art e-portfolio portal. Communications take place at times and via a method that suits the need of the individual candidate.

The NVQ Level 6 Health and Safety qualification’s 10 mandatory units are as follows:

  • Promote a positive health and safety culture
  • Develop and implement the health and safety policy
  • Develop and implement effective communication systems for health and safety information
  • Develop and maintain individual and organisational competence in health and safety matters
  • Identify, assess and control health and safety risks
  • Develop and implement proactive monitoring systems for health and safety
  • Develop and implement reactive monitoring systems for health and safety
  • Develop health and safety emergency response systems and procedures
  • Develop and implement health and safety review systems
  • Maintain knowledge of improvements to influence health and safety practice

The duration required to complete the Level 6 NVQ Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety Practice is entirely up to the candidate. It all depends on the urgency, the candidate's ability, and current workload. Previous experience tells us that it can take between 10 and 18 months to complete, with some exceptional students obtaining it in as little as seven months. This turnaround time is impressive, given this health and safety qualification is equivalent to a bachelor's degree.

The NVQ Level 6 Health and Safety is often a qualification of choice for those in busy health and safety roles, as they may not be able to commit significant time to classroom learning such as the NEBOSH diplomas. It is also a preferred pathway for candidates who prefer to demonstrate competency through practical application rather than a traditional academic examination.

It isn't easy to select an outright winner when considering the benefits of both the NVQ Level 6 in Health and Safety and the NEBOSH Diploma. Both have their own merits and are appropriate to varying types of candidates. Unlike the NEBOSH Diploma, the NVQ Level 6 Health and Safety does not involve classroom attendance or examinations. Instead, it is gained solely by submitting work-related evidence related to health and safety practices. Therefore, it is accepted that the NVQ level 6 health and safety is better suited to those who already work in a health and safety role. The NEBOSH Diploma is better suited to those with limited or no experience wishing to gain subject area knowledge for career development opportunities.

The NVQ Level 6 Health and Safety qualification meets the academic requirements for Graduate Membership of IOSH. Those who achieve it can then commence the CMIOSH pathway to eventually gain full chartered membership status with the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. This benefit makes this qualification an appealing choice for aspiring health and safety professionals.