Did you know that workplace safety is not just about complying with regulations, but also plays a major role in boosting productivity and employee morale?

Health and safety are vital in every industry, and the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) serves as a guiding force in maintaining and enhancing workplace safety standards.

As a leading membership organisation for health and safety professionals, IOSH offers several courses and qualifications that cater to various needs and expertise levels. 

So, what is IOSH? Let’s dive into the world of IOSH and explore its training courses, benefits, and how it can contribute to personal and professional growth.

 Key Takeaways

  • IOSH is a chartered body providing health and safety courses to individuals and organisations, helping them create safe workplaces.

  • IOSH qualifications provide personal and professional development as well as improved employability, knowledge of health & safety issues, CPD opportunities & safer work environments.

  • Adequate preparation with effective study techniques are essential for success in the IOSH exam.

A group of health and safety professionals discussing occupational safety

Understanding IOSH: The Basics

IOSH is the chartered body and the largest membership organisation for health and safety professionals, helping create safe, healthy, and sustainable workplaces worldwide. IOSH promotes occupational safety by providing a variety of health and safety courses for individuals and organisations. These courses provide essential safety knowledge and skills, enabling employees to contribute to a safer and healthier working environment.

Some of the courses offered by IOSH include:

  • IOSH Managing Safely certificate: a widely recognised qualification that does not expire, meaning its holders possess a strong foundation in health and safety management.
  • IOSH Working Safely certificate: an entry-level course that provides a basic understanding of health and safety principles.
  • IOSH Safety for Executives and Directors: a course designed for senior executives and directors to understand their legal responsibilities and effectively manage health and safety in their organisations.

By taking these health and safety training courses, individuals and organisations can enhance their knowledge and skills in health and safety, ultimately creating safer and healthier workplaces through effective safety training.

As a leading authority in health and safety, IOSH collaborates with governments, industries, and safety professionals around the globe to foster a safer and healthier world.

They actively campaign to raise awareness of workplace safety issues, such as potential causes of cancer and the adverse effects of dust, and have been successful in influencing governments to implement safety policies and standards.

What does IOSH stand for

IOSH stands for the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, a UK-based professional body with over 47,000 members across the globe. As a leading organization in the health and safety industry, IOSH provides:

  • Professional development programs

  • Events

  • Helplines

  • Up-to-date technical advice

These resources are available to its members, who are safety and health professionals.

IOSH provides training programs and educational resources, imparting valuable knowledge, skills, and qualifications to members and colleagues. Plus, IOSH provides other approved courses to help them succeed.

The Importance of IOSH

IOSH sets standards, offers training, and champions improved health and safety practices in the workplace. Their popular IOSH Managing Safely course equips participants with essential safety management knowledge, empowering them to identify potential hazards and take the necessary steps to mitigate the risk of accidents or injuries.

IOSH members are highly regarded for their efforts in organizing high-profile campaigns that bring attention to workplace safety issues, such as potential causes of cancer and the debilitating effects of dust. These movements have often resulted in IOSH petitioning governments worldwide, and in turn, these governments have been receptive, inviting members to provide advice or commission research on their behalf.

This highlights the significance of IOSH’s role in maintaining health and safety standards globally.

A group of people attending an IOSH training course

IOSH Training Courses: An Overview

There are two main IOSH training courses: Working Safely and Managing Safely. IOSH Working Safely is designed for individuals without management or supervisory responsibilities, providing them with a basic understanding of their health and safety responsibilities.

On the other hand, IOSH Managing Safely is tailored for individuals with management or supervisory responsibilities, equipping them with the necessary knowledge and skills to fulfill their health and safety obligations.

The selection between the two courses hinges on the individual’s role and obligations within their organization. In general, IOSH Managing Safely is more suitable for managers or supervisors responsible for managing the health and safety of others, while IOSH Working Safely is more appropriate for all other employees and those interested in workplace health and safety.

IOSH Working Safely

The IOSH Working Safely course, a one-day program, equips employees with the knowledge and skills needed to foster a safe working environment. The course covers a wide range of hazards, including:

  • Mechanical hazards

  • Physical hazards

  • Chemical hazards

  • Environmental hazards

  • Biological hazards

  • Organisational hazards

By completing the IOSH Working Safely course, employees can contribute to accident prevention, improved safety performance, and better compliance with health and safety regulations.

The aim of IOSH Working Safely is to:

  • Impart knowledge about safety

  • Cultivate a sense of responsibility towards personal safety and colleagues’ safety

  • Empower employees to actively contribute to a safer working environment

  • Minimize incidents

  • Foster a positive safety culture within the organization.

IOSH Managing Safely

IOSH Managing Safely is a more in-depth course aimed at managers and supervisors, focusing on hazard identification, risk assessment, and incident investigation. This comprehensive health and safety course is conducted over a three-day period and includes a multiple-choice exam and a practical risk assessment project. The IOSH Managing Safely qualification is of a similar standard to that of a Level 2 educational qualification. It is considered to be of equivalent value..

The IOSH Managing Safely course is structured into several modules. These include:

  • Understanding how to assess and control risks

  • Comprehending workplace hazards and responsibilities

  • Investigating incidents

  • Measuring performance

Although there is no specified expiry date for the IOSH Managing Safely course, it is recommended that participants refresh their knowledge every three years to stay up-to-date with the latest best practices and regulations in the field.

A person receiving an IOSH qualification certificate

Benefits of IOSH Qualifications

Obtaining an IOSH qualification can lead to:

  • Personal growth and professional development

  • Increased employability and career prospects

  • Knowledge about health and safety issues

  • Contribution to a safer working environment

  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities, such as attending conferences, seminars, and workshops, as well as participating in online courses and webinars.

Companies also reap the benefits of employing individuals with IOSH qualifications. Some of these benefits include:

  • A safer work environment

  • Fewer accidents

  • Better compliance with health and safety regulations

  • Increased productivity

  • Reduced costs

  • Improved employee morale and retention, as staff feel more confident and secure in their workplace.

Personal Growth and Professional Development

IOSH qualifications offer several personal growth benefits including:

  • CPD opportunities

  • Career progression

  • Personal investment

  • CV enrichment

  • Acquisition of additional knowledge and skills

By completing an IOSH course, individuals demonstrate their commitment to the health and safety profession and gain recognition for their expertise in the field. This can enhance their employability and open up new career opportunities within their industry.

Personal investment in IOSH qualifications can yield numerous benefits, such as increased self-confidence, better job prospects, and the ability to take on more responsibilities.

As an IOSH qualified professional, individuals are better equipped to contribute to a safer working environment and to actively participate in the development and implementation of health and safety policies and procedures within their organization.

Organisational Impact

IOSH qualifications offer organisations specific expertise and skills in the occupational safety and health (OSH) industry, proving beneficial. They assist organisations in:

  • Advancing their OSH strategy

  • Appraising safety systems

  • Recognising areas for enhancement

  • Adhering to regulatory requirements

Moreover, IOSH qualifications are advantageous as they remain valid indefinitely, eliminating the necessity for regular requalification.

Having employees with IOSH qualifications can lead to a safer work environment, reduced accidents, and improved compliance with health and safety regulations. In turn, this can result in increased productivity, reduced costs, and a more positive safety culture within the organisation. Employees feel more confident and secure in their workplace, leading to higher employee morale and retention.

A person receiving a chartered membership certificate from IOSH

IOSH Membership: Levels and Requirements

IOSH membership is a way to join the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and enhance one’s knowledge and skills in the field of occupational safety and health. IOSH offers three different membership types - Affiliate, Associate, and Chartered Member - which are tailored to suit individuals with varying qualifications and levels of experience.

The level of membership is based on an individual’s qualifications and experience, and each level offers its own unique set of benefits and resources for members to take advantage of in their professional development.

An IOSH membership offers valuable resources, networking opportunities, and professional development programs, irrespective of whether you are an experienced health and safety professional or a beginner. This can help you propel your career forward and keep abreast of industry updates.

Affiliate Member

The Affiliate Member level is open to any individual interested in health and safety, with no qualifications necessary. An Affiliate Membership grants access to various resources, such as IOSH’s digital library, reduced rates on IOSH training sessions, and the ability to connect with IOSH’s pool of specialists.

To become an Affiliate Member, you must submit an application form and pay the associated annual subscription fee.

Associate Member

An Associate Member is for individuals who have obtained an IOSH-accredited qualification and possess some experience in the field of health and safety.

To become an Associate Member of IOSH, you need to possess an IOSH-accredited qualification. To submit your application, please reach out to IOSH directly..

As an Associate Member, you can take advantage of IOSH resources and professional development opportunities to further enhance your skills and knowledge in the health and safety industry.

Chartered Member

A Chartered Member is a designation for experienced health and safety professionals who have demonstrated a considerable level of competency and dedication to the field. In order to be eligible for Chartered Member status, a minimum of five years of experience in health and safety must be achieved, along with a high level of competence and dedication to the field.

As a Chartered Member, you are recognized as an expert in your profession and can provide long-term value and guidance in your field.

A person attending an online IOSH course

IOSH vs. NEBOSH: Which One is Right for You?

Both IOSH and NEBOSH courses are esteemed and internationally recognized in the realm of health and safety qualifications. However, there are some key differences between IOSH and NEBOSH that can influence your decision on which one is right for you.

IOSH courses, generally more suited to those in lower-risk industries, aim to establish a strong foundation in health and safety management. On the other hand, NEBOSH courses cater to higher-risk sectors and offer more specialised knowledge, making them the preferred choice for certain industries and countries.

Ultimately, the choice between IOSH and NEBOSH courses depends on your specific needs, job responsibilities, and the level of risk in your industry. Both qualifications are widely recognised and respected, and obtaining either one can significantly enhance your career prospects and professional development in the field of health and safety.

For further help on choosing the right course, please read our helpful guide IOSH or NEBOSH Which is best for you?.

Course Content and Focus

The course content and focus of IOSH and NEBOSH courses differ in terms of their target audience and the level of risk they address. While IOSH courses, such as IOSH Working Safely and IOSH Managing Safely, provide a foundation in health and safety management for various industries, NEBOSH courses delve deeper into specialized knowledge for higher-risk sectors.

Therefore, when choosing between the two, it’s essential to consider your job responsibilities and the risk level within your industry.

Recognition and Applicability

Both IOSH and NEBOSH qualifications are internationally recognized and demonstrate an understanding of health and safety in various countries. However, NEBOSH may be more widely accepted in certain industries and countries, making it a more suitable choice for professionals working in higher-risk sectors.

It’s important to research the specific requirements and preferences of your industry and location to determine which qualification would be the most beneficial for your career goals.

A person holding a certificate with the logos of IOSH and NEBOSH, representing the benefits of gaining IOSH or NEBOSH qualifications.

Online and In-Person IOSH Course Options

With advancements in technology and the increasing need for flexibility in professional development, IOSH courses are now available in both online and in-person formats.

Online courses offer the convenience of studying at your own pace and from the comfort of your own home, making them an attractive option for busy professionals or those who may not have easy access to in-person training sessions.

In-person courses, on the other hand, provide the opportunity for hands-on learning, networking, and direct interaction with instructors and fellow students.

When choosing between online and in-person IOSH courses, it’s essential to consider your personal learning preferences, schedule, and location. Both formats offer quality training and resources, and ultimately, the choice depends on what best suits your individual needs and circumstances.

Tips for Success in IOSH Exams

Preparation for IOSH exams and succeeding in them entails a blend of effective study methods and appropriate exam day readiness. Active engagement with study material, devising a study plan, understanding key concepts, making use of health and safety support resources, and progress monitoring can equip you to confidently approach the IOSH exam.

On the exam day, the following steps are vital to ensure you are well-prepared and focused during the test:

  1. Get sufficient sleep the night before the exam.

  2. Eat a balanced meal before the exam to fuel your brain.

  3. Arrive early at the exam venue to avoid any last-minute stress.

  4. Read the instructions carefully before starting the exam.

  5. Take regular breaks to rest your mind and prevent fatigue.

  6. Remain calm and composed throughout the exam to maintain focus. By following these steps, you can increase your chances of success and achieve your desired IOSH qualification.

For further help and guidance before your exams, please read our comprehensive article on How to Prepare for the IOSH Exam

Study Techniques

Effective study techniques can significantly improve your exam performance and overall understanding of the course content. Some recommended techniques include creating study notes, utilising practice tests, and studying in groups.

These methods can help you retain information better, identify areas for improvement, and keep you motivated throughout your preparation.

Additionally, engaging actively with the study material and focusing on key concepts can enhance comprehension and information retention, increasing your chances of success in the exam.

It’s also important to allocate dedicated study time and create a study plan that takes into account your individual learning preferences and needs.

Adhering to your study plan and making good use of available health and safety support resources, such as online courses, books, and videos, can help you stay on track and make the most of your preparation time.

Exam Day Preparation

Proper preparation on exam day is crucial for success in your IOSH exam. Ensuring that you are well-rested, nourished, and relaxed can help reduce stress and improve focus during the test. Arriving at the exam venue early allows you to settle in and avoid any last-minute stress or distractions.

During the exam, follow these steps:

  1. Read the instructions carefully.

  2. Pace yourself to ensure that you have adequate time to complete all sections of the test.

  3. Take regular breaks, if allowed, to help maintain focus and prevent mental fatigue.

Above all, remain calm and trust in your preparation, as confidence can make a significant difference in your exam performance.


In conclusion, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) plays a crucial role in maintaining and enhancing workplace safety standards worldwide. With a variety of courses and qualifications available, IOSH caters to individuals with varying levels of experience and responsibilities within the health and safety industry.

Whether you choose an IOSH or NEBOSH qualification, investing in your health and safety knowledge and skills can undoubtedly lead to personal growth, professional development, and a safer working environment for all.

By understanding the different IOSH training courses, membership levels, and study techniques, you can make an informed decision about which qualification best suits your needs and career goals. Embrace the opportunity to contribute to a safer and healthier world by pursuing an IOSH qualification today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an IOSH qualification?

IOSH is the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, a UK-based organisation offering professional qualifications to raise standards of health and safety in the workplace. Their qualifications are practice-based and demonstrate the importance of safety and health in a business environment, covering three modules: Safety and health management in the workplace, How to influence a safety and health culture in an organisation, and A strategic business-focused approach to safety and health.

How long does the IOSH certificate last?

An IOSH certificate or qualification is valid indefinitely, meaning it never officially expires. However, due to the ever-evolving nature of health and safety regulations and practices, IOSH recommends that certificate holders undertake a refresher course every three years to stay up-to-date with the latest industry standards and best practices.

Is IOSH or NEBOSH better?

For those just beginning their journey into health and safety, IOSH courses offer an introduction to best practices, while NEBOSH is better for more experienced professionals seeking a career in management. For further information please read our comprehensive guide on IOSH vs NEBOSH.

What is the difference between IOSH and NEBOSH courses?

IOSH courses are more suited for those in lower-risk industries, while NEBOSH courses focus on higher-risk sectors and offer more specialised knowledge.

Can I take an IOSH course online?

Yes, IOSH offers several online courses including Managing Safely and Working Safely, so you can take an IOSH course online.


  Published on 02 October 2023 By Gary Holland

About Gary Holland

Chartered Health and Safety professional, with extensive knowledge of creating and implementing health and safety, environmental and quality management systems to ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 / ISO 45001 standard.

Experience in working with a number of high profile clients in demanding and high-risk industries, including; Utilities, Construction, Manufacturing, Renewable Energy (offshore and onshore wind), Defense, Nuclear and Public sector.

I am able to understand client’s needs and expectations and deliver projects to high standards, implementing best practice above compliance.