Our guide to IOSH
Jade O'Donoghue

Our guide to IOSH

First published date July 17 2015 Amended date July 17 2015

Though health and safety can have a bit of a 'boring' reputation, there's no doubt that it's key to ensuring millions of people the world over survive the working day – and we don't mean metaphorically. Whether you're working in health and safety or interested in becoming the expert for your workplace, IOSH will certainly be an acronym on your radar.


IOSH stands for the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and is an organisation focused on ensuring that workplaces are safe and not detrimental to their employees’ health. As part of this they do everything from running campaigns; to raising awareness about health and safety; to accrediting courses in working, managing and leading safely.

Though primarily UK-based, IOSH is recognised worldwide and as such, acquiring IOSH training will set you in good stead, wherever you want to work in the world.


Different types of IOSH training course

Working safely

This course usually lasts one day and is aimed at anyone, regardless of the industry you work in. It will give you an overview of health and safety and things to look out for. As it's quite general, it's unlikely to go into detail about very specific equipment or processes, but it will certainly help anyone hoping to become the go-to for health and safety advice in their workplace. 


Managing safely

This course is usually aimed more at managers – no matter how big the team – and focuses on ensuring they have full guidance on what is expected in terms of health and safety standards. It's very focused around businesses and managing health and safety within them.


Leading safely

This course is aimed more at senior managers, perhaps those running a business. It also focuses on the business reasons for maintaining high health and safety standards but it will go into more detail about the effects this can have on things like profit and productivity.


IOSH membership

If you are forging a career in health and safety specifically, you might want to become a member of IOSH as well as taking courses. There are many options, ranging from affiliate member (a member who pays yearly and enjoys the benefits and services available but doesn't hold any specific qualifications) right up to chartered fellow membership which denotes health and safety experts who have been in the industry for five years and show a great deal of commitment to it. You'd need to apply for this through IOSH.

If membership is something you're interested in, it's definitely worth asking your IOSH training course provider about it as they will have more information on what you need to do to get there according to your own background and experience.



NEBOSH (The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health) is another organisation that offers training in health and safety for people who want to learn more about protecting themselves and others from accidents in the workplace. Generally speaking, NEBOSH courses are longer and more costly than IOSH ones. Both are well respected, but most course providers will recommend an IOSH course if your industry isn't too high risk (eg office work).


Five health and safety facts to share with your course mates

1. Playing conkers is NOT banned from the playground on health and safety grounds. In fact, the chances of a child getting hurt playing conkers are so small that they're not worth acting upon. If the kids decide to throw the conkers at each other, it’s true that may cause some accidents, but the game itself is not dangerous.


2. Work related stress is currently the most popular illness people suffer from at work and the thing that causes the most loss of working days. It's a very real thing and something that can be controlled with good health and safety practice.


3. Self employed people are at the highest risk of dying at work. It's a bit of a dark fact, but really outlines the importance of investing in good health and safety training, whether you work for a big company or just for yourself.


4. Do you turn your phone off at petrol stations for fear of setting the place alight? In reality, this health and safety rule is not necessary; there has never an instance of a mobile phone starting a petrol station fire.


5. If you drive after being awake for more than 24 hours, your reaction times are around the same as someone who is slightly over the drink drive limit. So if you work with vehicles, make sure you get a good night's sleep!