eHandS health and safety glossary of terms (online health and safety dictionary)

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Our aim is to create the most comprehensive glossary of health and safety terms on the web. We can only do this with your help. If you know a term which you think should be listed please let us know.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 
A
Abnormal Event An unplanned or unusual event or occurrence.
Absolute A non negotiable duty imposed by a regulation when it uses the term 'shall' or 'must' without the qualification of 'reasonably practicable'.
Absorption The entry of a substance into the body through broken or unbroken skin
Accident An undesired event or series of events causing (or with the potential to cause) injury, ill-health or damage.
Accident Investigation A systematic investigation of an accident to find out what happened and determine immediate and underlying causes as well as reviewing existing risk assessments, safety procedures and control measures with a view to introducing measures to prevent recurrence.
Accident Prevention Measures taken to prevent accidents from happening. Can be either pro-active, i.e. implemented before an accident happens, or re-active, i.e. taken in response to an accident that has already happened.
Accident Rate A normalisation of the number of accidents taking into account the number of workers employed and the hours worked. Generally accepted as No. of Accidents x 100,000/No. of Hours Worked.
Acid An organic or inorganic compound, usually a liquid with a pH of less than 7. Acidic materials are corrosive to human tissue.
ACOP Approved Code of Practice
Action Level The level above which action should be taken. For example the Noise at Work Regulations 1989 define two actions levels. The lower level 80dB(A) at which the employer must provide information and training and make hearing protection available. The upper exposure action level of 85dB(A) above which the employer should take reasonably practicable steps to reduce noise and the wearing of hearing protection becomes mandatory.
In the US the action level commonly refers to the exposure level at which the OSHA regulations take effect.
Acute Effect An effect arising from exposure to a hazardous substance which happens immediately on exposure.
Acute Exposure Single exposure to a hazardous substance over a short period of time. The seriousness of this exposure will depend on the toxicity of the substance.
Adaptation The ability of people to cope with situations that are less than perfect.
Aerosols Aerosols are tiny liquid and solid particles suspended in the air.
AIB Asbestos Insulation Board
AIDS Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
Air Exchange Rate The rate at which outdoor air replaces indoor air. Often stated as the number of changes per hour.
ALARA As Low As Reasonably Achievable. An approach initially developed in the nuclear industry to ensure that facilities and practices were designed to keep risks As Low As Reasonably Achievable.
ALARP As Low As Reasonably Practicable. An approach initially developed in the nuclear industry to ensure that facilities and practices were designed to keep risks As Low As Reasonably Practicable.
Alkali Chemical compounds that have a pH value of more than 7. Alkali's are also known as Base or Caustic materials. These materials can be corrosive to human tissue.
Allergen Any material which produces an allergic reaction in an individual.
ALU Asbestos Licensing Unit
Anti-glare Screen A monitor screen that is treated to reduce glare from light sources. This can be achieved as part of the manufacturing process or by fitting a separate screen filter. LCD screens may completely eliminate glare.
Apparent Loudness Apparent loudness is how loud the noise is perceived by the individual. This is where the logarithmic nature of the dB scale has greatest impact, in that an increase of 10dB results in a doubling of the apparent loudness.
Appointed Person This is a defined role from the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981. If the workplace is a low risk workplace (office, shop, library,etc.) and employs less than 50 employees there is only a requirement for one Appointed Person. This person will have undergone a one day training course covering CPR and very basic first aid. They will also be responsible for maintaining the first aid box for the organisation.
Approved Code of Practice Approved Codes of Practice are published by the HSE to cover many regulations. Approved Codes of Practice although not law themselves do give guidance on how to comply with the law and as such have a special legal status, similar to the Highway Code. If you comply with an Approved Code of Practice it is likely that you will be doing enough to comply with the law.
As far as reasonably practicable The degree of risk in a particular situation can be balanced against the cost, in terms of time, trouble, money and physical difficulty of taking measures to avoid the risk. If this cost is disproportionate to the risk it would be unreasonable to expect any employer to incur those costs to avoid the risk.
Asbestos Asbestos is the name used for a group of natural minerals, which comprises three main types. Crocidolite (Blue Asbestos), Amosite (Brown Asbestos) and Chrysotile (White Asbestos). The type of asbestos cannot be identified just by its colour. Although these fibres have many good properties such as being fire retardant, the fibres are very very small and once airborne are easily breathed in and can become stuck in the lungs, causing debilitating and fatal diseases such as Asbestosis and Lung Cancer.
Asbestosis Asbestosis is the scarring of the lung tissue by asbestos fibres which stops the lungs from working properly causing a shortness of breath.
Asphyxiant A material capable of displacing the level of oxygen in the body. This happens most commonly when the substance displaces air in an enclosed environment. Some asphyxiants can act directly on the oxygen carrying capability of the blood, such as Carbon Monoxide, which will be taken up by the body in preference to oxygen and can lead to unconsciousness and even death. This is a particular hazard from incomplete combustion in a faulty appliance.
ATEX Explosion Protection Directive. Derives its name from the original working title
"ATmosphère EXplosible".
Audible Range Audible range is the range of frequencies which can be detected by the human ear. For a normal adult this is between 20 & 20,000 Hz. Ultrasound is a sound whose frequency is too high for hearing. Infrasound is a sound whose frequency is too low for hearing.
Audiometry Audiometry is a screening technique used to detect early damage to hearing as a result of exposure to noise.
Audiometric Testing See Audiometry.
 
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B
Background Level The normal or typical level existing in the environment. Can be used in terms of radiation or chemicals.
Balance of Probabilities The standard of proof required by by the courts in a civil law claim. Also known as the 'preponderance of evidence' in the US. The standard is met if there is a greater than 50% chance of the proposition being true. Described by Lord Denning (Miller Vs Minister of Pensions) as 'more probable than not'.
Barrier Cream A cream which can be applied to the hands to help protect them from oils, greases, and other mild irritants. Some creams can also be absorbed by the skin to help safeguard against contact dermatitis. These should not be considered as a substitute for proper PPE.
Base Chemical compounds that have a pH value of more than 7. Bases are also known as Alkalis or caustic materials. These materials can be corrosive to human tissue.
Best Practice A management concept that there is a way that is more effective at delivering results than others. This is often considered alongside benchmarking, which is about making comparisons with others and learning the lessons that those comparisons throw up.
Beyond Reasonable Doubt The standard of proof required by a criminal law case.
Biological Agent A biological agent is an infectious disease or toxin, which has the ability to adversely affect human health. This may be relatively mild allergic reactions or serious medical conditions and even death.
Biological Monitoring Biological monitoring is the process of monitoring how much of a chemical has entered a persons body. This can be done by testing breath, urine or blood.
BLEVE Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapour Explosion. A very powerful explosion which occurs when a vapour, stored as a liquid under pressure within a pressure vessel is allowed to boil (often as the result of of a failure of the pressure vessel) and then ignite.
BMA British Medical Association
Boiling Point The temperature at which a liquid changes state to a gas (usually measured at atmospheric pressure).
BSE Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
BSI British Standards Institute
Business Continuity Plan An all encompasing term covering both disaster recovery planning and business resumption planning.
 
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C
CA Competent Authority - A defined term in some regulations such as the Control of Major Accident Hazard Regulations and The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations. The competent authority for COMAH is jointly between the HSE and the Environment Agency in England and Wales and the HSE and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) in Scotland. The competent authority for The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations is the HSE on their own.
CCA Centre for Corporate Accountability. A charity concerned with the promotion of worker and public safety.
Competent Authority A defined term in some regulations such as the Control of Major Accident Hazard Regulations and The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations. The competent authority for COMAH is jointly between the HSE and the Environment Agency in England and Wales and the HSE and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) in Scotland. The competent authority for The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations is the HSE on their own.
Contributory Negligence A common law defence to a claim or action. It applies to a situation where the plaintiff or claimant has, through their own negligence, caused or contributed to the injury they suffered.
CAD Chemical Agents Directive
Carcinogen Chemicals that are known or suspected to cause cancer.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the result of the median nerve, running from the forearm to the hand, being squeezed at the wrist. This can result in burning, tingling or itching numbness in the palm of the hand and fingers. This may or may not be caused by the repeated use of vibrating hand tools. See also RSI.
Catalyst Usually a chemical compound that accelerates a chemical reaction, without being consumed itself in the chemical reaction.
Caustic A strongly alkaline material that is either corrosive or irritant to human tissue.
CBI Confedration of British Industry
CCF Common Cause Failure
CD Consultative Document
CDM The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994
CEN Comite European de Normalisation
Central Nervous System Essentially the Brain and Spinal Cord.
CFC's ChloroFluoroCarbons. Any organic compound composed of Chlorine, Flourine, Carbon. These are typically refrigerants and aerosol propellants such as Freon. CFC's have been found to pose a serious environmental threat.
CHIP Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations 2002. CHIP is the law that applies to suppliers of dangerous chemicals. It is these regulations that give rise to Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
Chronic Effect An effect arising from exposure to a hazardous substance which takes a long time to take effect. This may take months or even years for the effects to become evident.
Chronic Exposure Multiple exposures to a hazardous substance over a long period of time. The seriousness of this exposure will depend on the toxicity of the substance.
CHSW The Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996
CITB Construction Industry Training Board
CMF Common Mode Failure
CMIOSH Chartered Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health
Code of Practice Rules established by regulatory bodies or trade associations, which are intended as a guide. Beyond evidence of best practice they do not have any legal standing. See also Approved Code of Practice.
COMAH The Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations 1999
Combustible Liquid Mainly a US term (see Flammable Liquid for UK). Defined as any liquid having a flash point at or above 100°F. See also Flash Point.
Common Law Unwritten law, originally based on the merging of various local customs and laws as a result of various royal judges who toured the country. Cannot be in conflict with Statute Law.
Common Mode Failure A common mode failure results from a single fault (or set of faults). Computer systems are vulnerable to common mode failures if they rely on a single source of power, cooling or I/O.
Competent Person A Competent Person is defined by the HSE as somebody with the skill, knowledge, practical experience and training to enable them to assess the risks arising from the work activity.
Compliance Compliance normally means ensuring that activities undertaken agree with both the letter and the spirit of the law.
Confined Space A Confined Space is a place which is substantially enclosed (though not always entirely), and where serious injury can occur from hazardous substances or conditions within the space or nearby (e.g. lack of oxygen).
CONIAC Construction Industry Advisory Committee
Controls Actions taken or measures put in place to reduce risks arising from work activity.
Corrosive A material that will cause destruction or irreversible damage to living tissue on contact.
COSHH The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 1988
COSLA Convention of Scottish Local Authorities
CRT Cathode Ray Tube
Cryogenic Liquid A liquefied gas at a very low temperature, such as liquid oxygen, nitrogen or argon.
 
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D
dB A logarithmic measurement commonly used to measure sound.
dB(A) Sound measured using the "A weighting". Commonly used as the measurement of environmental or industrial noise.
DDA Disability Discrimination Act 1995
Deefie A Glasgow term for having received your compensation for noise induced hearing loss, as in "Have you had your deefie yet?"
Dermatitis An inflammation of the skin, also called Eczema. It causes red, itchy skin which may also blister. Often caused by direct contact with a substance which irritates the skin.
DETR Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions. Now replaced by the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions.
DfEE Department for Education and Employment. Now replaced by the Department for Education and Skills.
DfES Department for Education and Skills
Dilution Ventilation Dilution Ventilation involves bringing in clean air to dilute the contaminated air and then exhausting the diluted air to the outside via exhaust fans.
DOH Department of Health
Domino Theory A theory on accident causation proposed by Heinrich in the 1920's. Heinrich's Domino Theory suggests that an accident leading to injury or damage is the result of a five stage sequence and each stage (domino) represents a linked cause. Remove any one and the sequence cannot run its course and the accident will be prevented. The five stages are; 1. Work Situation, 2. Fault of Person, 3. Unsafe Act, 4. Accident, 5. Injury or Damage.
DSD Dangerous Substances Directive
DSE Display Screen Equipment
DSEAR Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002
DSER Display Screen Equipment Regulations
DTI Department of Trade and Industry
DTLT Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions
Due Diligence Some health and safety regulations allow a defence of "due diligence". This allows a person who may be subject to legal proceedings to establish a defence if they can show that they have taken "all reasonable precautions and exercised due diligence" to avoid committing an offence. Interestingly this defence is not available under The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Dust Solid airborne particles.
Duty of Care A legal precedent which states that "You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you could reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour". Established by Donoghue Vs Stevenson (1932). - It's what put Paisley on the map!
 
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E
EA Environment Agency
EAW Electricity at Work Regulations
EC European Community
EEC European Economic Community
EH40 An HSE publication defining Occupational Exposure Limits in support of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations.
EHO Environmental Health Officer. A local authority position responsible for enforcing health and safety legislation at a local level.
EMAS Employment Medical Advisory Service
Embryotoxin Also known as fetotoxin. A substance which can harm or kill an unborn baby.
Emergency Plan A legal requirement for Upper Tier COMAH sites. A written plan detailing the actions to be taken in the event of an emergency or serious incident.
Encapsulation A technique used in the manufacture of equipment for use in potentially explosive atmospheres, where the equipment is encapsulated either in oil or resin to prevent any potential ignition source from coming in contact with the explosive atmosphere.
Environment The natural environment comprises all living and non-living things that occur naturally on earth. The environment may also include the built environment. Essentially the environment in which we work and which may affected by our work activities.
Environment Agency The Uk's public body for protecting and improving the environment in England and Wales. Joint Competent Authority for the enforcement of COMAH regulations in England and Wales.
EPA Environment Protection Agency. The US equivalent of the Environment Agency. Federally regulates and enforces federal environment protection standards.
Epidemiology the scientific study of factors affecting the health and illness of populations.
Ergonomic Hazards Workplace conditions that pose a risk of musculoskeletal injuries. Ergonomic hazards include repetitive and forceful movements, vibration, temperature extremes and awkward postures that arise from improper work methods and improperly designed workstations, tools and equipment.
Ergonomics The study and knowledge of human abilities and limitations to help design and build for comfort, efficiency, productivity and safety.
EU European Union
Evaporation The process of a material changing state from liquid to gas.
Event Tree A tree like diagram used to determine alternative potential scenarios arising from a particular hazardous event. Can also be used quantitively to determine the probability or frequency of different consequences arising from the hazardous event.
Explosive Sudden expansion of a material, usually accompanied by the production of heat and large changes in pressure.
Explosion Proof Protection A range of techniques applied to the manufacture of equipment for use in potentially explosive atmospheres.
Ex Rated An item of equipment which has been manufactured for use in a potentially explosive atmosphere.
Exposure Records Records of an individual's personal exposure to a harmful substance such as a hazardous substance or radiation.
 
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F
Fatality Death
Fault Tree Analysis An analysis technique that visually models how logical relationships between failures, human errors and external events can combine to cause specific accidents.
FIAT Acronym standing for Fixed, Interlocked, Automatic & Trip. This represents the type of guarding that can be applied to a machine and the order in which it should preferably be applied.
First Aid The immediate aid provided to a sick or injured person to 1. Preserve Life, 2. Prevent Further Injury and 3. Promote Recovery. Covered in the workplace by the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981.
Flammability The ease with which a substance will ignite.
Flammable Gas
Flammable Liquid
Flammable Solid
Flash Point The lowest temperature at which the vapour of a substance, mixed with air will 'flash' when a flame is applied to the mixture.
FLT Forklift Truck
FMEA Failure Mode and Effects Analysis. A methodology designed to identify potential failure modes for a product or process, to assess the risk associated with those failure modes, to rank the issues in terms of importance and to identify and carry out corrective actions to address the most serious concerns.
FMECA Failure Mode Effects and Criticality Analysis. As FMEA but also applying a Criticality Analysis to the process.
FOD Field Operations Directorate. The division of the HSE responsible for most industrial workplaces.
FOI Freedom of Information Act
Foot Rest A support on which to rest the feet. Often provided as part of a workstation assessment to ensure comfort and safety while using Display Screen Equipment.
FPA The Fire Protection Association.
Freezing Point The temperature at which a liquid changes state to a solid (usually measured at atmospheric pressure).
Fume Vapours, dusts or gases given of by a substance.
Fume Cupboard A type of Local Exhaust Ventilation. Typically a cabinet with a moveable front sash window, made from safety glass. Air is drawn into the cupboard under and through the opened sash and is exhausted through openings in the rear and top of the cabinet to a remote point, such as an exhaust stack on the roof of the building.
 
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G
Glare Bright light that interferes with with a person's ability to see. Glare can cause discomfort and can lead to eyestrain and headaches.
GMC General Medical Council. The UK's body for regulating doctors and ensuring good medical practice
GMP Good Manufacturing Practices. The standard of controls required for the production of pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals in the US, UK, Europe and Japan.
Good Practice A management concept that some ways are more effective at delivering results than others. This is often considered alongside benchmarking, which is about making comparisons with others and learning the lessons that those comparisons throw up.
Guarding Use of any device or combination of devices which prevents any person gaining access to a dangerous part of a machine.
 
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H
H&S Rep Health & safety Representatives. Safety Reps are appointed by trade unions to represent their members on health and safety matters.
Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome Hand-arm vibration affects the nerves, blood vessels, muscles and joints and is the result of too much vibration associated with the use of hand held vibrating power tools. Hand-arm Vibration Syndrome includes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Vibration White Finger.
HASAWA The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. This is the primary health and safety legislation in the UK. It is considered an "umbrella" act under which more specific regulations exist to cover specific areas of health and safety.
HAV Hand Arm Vibration
Hazardous Chemical A chemical or substance which can put peoples health at risk. Controlled by the Control od Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations
HAZCHEM Abbreviation for Hazardous Chemicals.
HAZOP Hazard and Operability Study. Often referred to as HAZOPS, Hazard and Operability Studies. A technique pioneered in the chemical and process industries to examine potential hazards and operability problems caused by deviations from the design intent.
HCFC's HydroChloroFlouroCarbons. Any organic compound composed of Hydrogen, Chlorine, Flourine, Carbon. These are typically refrigerants such as R22. Like CFC's, HCFC's have been found to pose a serious environmental threat.
Hazard An object, situation, or behaviour, that has the potential to cause harm in terms of injury, ill health, or damage to property or the environment. (See also Risk).
Health and Safety Commission The Health and Safety Commission is responsible for health and safety regulation in the UK. They are supported by the Health and Safety Executive and Local Authorities who act as the enforcing authorities in support of the Health and Safety Commission.
Health and Safety Executive The Health and Safety Executive are the enforcing authority for health and safety legislation in the UK.
Health Monitoring Health Monitoring is about collecting and using information about workers' health, related to the substances they use.
Health Surveillance Health Surveillance is about systematically watching out for early signs of work-related ill health in employees exposed to certain health risks, such as hazardous substances or excessive noise.
Heat Exhaustion A serious illness caused by too much heat. It is often brought on by overexertion or profuse sweating in a hot, humid, poorly ventilated environment.
Heat Stroke A life threatening condition. The persons cooling system, which is controlled by the brain has stopped working and the internal temperature has risen to the point where brain damage or damage to other internal organs may occur.
Heinrich's Domino Theory A theory on accident causation proposed by Heinrich in the 1920's. Heinrich's Domino Theory suggests that an accident leading to injury or damage is the result of a five stage sequence and each stage (domino) represents a linked cause. Remove any one and the sequence cannot run its course and the accident will be prevented. The five stages are; 1. Work Situation, 2. Fault of Person, 3. Unsafe Act, 4. Accident, 5. Injury or Damage.
HID Hazardous Installations Directorate
HR Human Resources. The new name for Personnel.
HSAC Health Services Advisory Committee
HSC The Health and Safety Commission
HSCER The Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996
HSE The Health and Safety Executive
HSWA The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. This is the primary health and safety legislation in the UK. It is considered an "umbrella" act under which more specific regulations exist to cover specific areas of health and safety.
Human Factors The environmental, organisational and job factors and human and individual characteristics which influence behavior at work. Careful consideration of human factors can improve health and safety by reducing accidents and cases of ill-health at work. See also Ergonomics.
Hygiene The assessment and control of chemical, physical or biological hazards in the workplace that could cause disease, ill health or discomfort.
Hypersensitive An immune response that damages the body's own tissues.
Hypothermia A life threatening condition in which the body temperature drops below the level required for normal metabolism and body function.
 
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I
Ignition Source A flame, spark or hot surface capable of igniting flammable vapours or fumes.
IIRSM The International Institute of Risk and Safety Management. A professional body for health and safety pacticioners, created to advance professional standards in accident prevention and occupational health throughout the world.
Illuminance The total amount of visible light illuminating (incident upon) a point on a surface from all directions. Formerly called brightness. Measured in Lumens/square metre or Lux.
Improvement Notice A notice issued by the Health and Safety Executive that requires steps to be taken to improve health and safety by a specified date. Improvement notices are commonly issued following an accident but may be issued following a routine HSE inspection.
Incident An unplanned event, which in different circumstances, could have resulted in an accident, including injury to persons or damage to property.
Incident Investigation A systematic process of gathering and analysing information about an incident for the purpose of identifying causes and making recommendations to prevent recurrence.
Ingestion The swallowing of a substance. See also Routes of Entry.
Inhalation The breathing of a substance in the form of gas, vapour, fume, mist or dust. See also Routes of Entry.
Inhibitor
Injection The entry of a substance through a puncture wound.
Injury Frequency Rate The number of injuries per 100,000 hours worked. The following formula can be applied. No. of Injuries x 100,000 Hours/Total No. of Hours Worked.
Injury Severity Rate A measure of the days lost to injuries during a specific period. The following formula can be applied. No. of days Lost x 100,000 Hours/Total No. of Hours Worked.
IoD Institute of Directors
IOSH Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.
Irritant A non corrosive substance which can cause inflammation through immediate, prolonged or repeated contact.
IRRs Ionising Radiations Regulations
ISO International Standards Organisation. Responsible for international standards, such as the quality standards ISO 9001 and the environmental standard ISO 14001.
IT Information Technology
 
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J
Job Design Job Design defines the way people do their job and behave in the work environment. It also influences the culture of the organisation.
Job Hazard Analysis A technique that focuses on job tasks as a way to identify hazards before they occur. It focuses on the relationship between the worker, the task, the tools and the work environment. Ideally once uncontrolled hazards have been identified control measures will be applied to eliminate or reduce them to an acceptable level. The US equivalent of a Risk Assessment.
 
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K
 
Key Element A constuction industry term to describe a structural member whose removal would cause more than limited collapse ofthe building.
 
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L
LA Local Authority
LAA Local Authority Associations
LEL Lower Explosive Limit. The level of concentration of an explosive gas below which an explosion will not occur due to insufficient explosive gas. See also UEL.
LEV Local Exhaust Ventilation
Local Exhaust Ventilation Local Exhaust Ventilation is a form of ventilation which encloses the material, equipment or process as much as possible and ensures air flow into the enclosure and away from the worker and workspace.
Lock Out A specific set of procedures for ensuring that a machine, once shutdown for maintenance or repair is secured against accidental start-up or movement of any of its parts for the length of the shut-down. See also Lock Out/Tag Out.
Lock Out/Tag Out Specific practices and procedures to safeguard employees from the unexpected energisation or start-up of machinery and equipment or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities. See also Lock Out.
LOLER Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998
LOPA Layer of Protection Analysis. A risk analysis technique which lies somewhere between a quantitative risk assessment and a fully blown HAZOP study. It founded on the basis that plants are protected by several "layers" of protection.
Loss Control Measures taken to prevent or reduce loss. Loss is considered and any loss arising from injury, illness property damage, fines etc.
Loss Prevention A term used in risk management to describe a number of methods used to reduce the amount of all losses.
Lost Time Accident Any accident that prevents a worker from performing their normal duties. See also Reportable Accident.
Lower Tier Defined in the Control of Major Accident Hazard (COMAH) Regulations 1999 as any site with storage of flammable liquid in excess of 5,000 tonnes and less than 50,000 tonnes. Lower tier COMAH sites are required to produce a Major Accident Prevention Policy (MAPP).
LPG Liquefied Petroleum Gas
LTA See Lost Time Accident
Lumbar The lower region of the back. Between the diaphragm and the pelvis.
Luminance Measure of luminous intensity. Measured in Candela.
Lux Unit of measurement for illuminance.
 
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M
MAFF Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Manual Handling Transporting or supporting a load, including lighting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving by hand or bodily force.
MAPP Major Accident Prevention Policy. A requirement for lower tier COMAH sites.
Material Safety Data Sheet A Material Safety Data Sheet is a document that contains information on the potential hazards (composition, first aid, fire precautions, spillage precautions, environmental hazards) and how to work safely with a chemical product.
MEL Maximum Exposure Limit. Defined in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations and updated in EH40. The MEL sets the maximum exposure to which an employee can be exposed to a specified hazardous substance.
Mesothelioma Mesothelioma is the name given to a cancer of the lining of the lung, which is often caused by breathing in asbestos fibres.
Method Statement A document detailing how a particular process will be carried out. Such a statement is commonly used to describe how construction/installation works can be carried out safely.
MIOSH Member of The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health.
MOD Ministry of Defence
MSD Musculoskeletal Disorder
MSDS Material Safety Data Sheet
Mutagen A substance which may cause changes in human cells and may be handed down from generation to generation.
 
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N
Narcotic Substances that result in drowsiness or dulling of the senses.
NAW National Assembly for Wales
Near Miss A near miss describes an incident which given a slight shift in time or distance might have resulted in injury, ill-heath or damage. By reporting, investigating and acting on lessons learned from near misses, accidents should be prevented.
NEBOSH National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health. An independent awards body who are responsible for two well known and well respected qualifications. The NEBOSH General Certificate. An examined qualification, usually following the equivalent of two weeks of study. Considered the 'de facto' standard for managers and supervisors and as preparation for the Diploma. The Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is approximately equivalent to 3rd year degree level and is the recognised standard for Health and Safety Professionals in the UK.
Negligence "Negligence is the omission to do something which a reasonable man, guided upon by those considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs, would do, or do something which a prudent and reasonable man would not do." Blyth Vs Birmingham Waterworks Co. (1856)
NHS National Health Service
NII Nuclear Installations Inspectorate. The division of the Health and Safety Executive responsible for ensuring safety in the civilian nuclear industry.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss Noise induced hearing loss can be caused by a one-time exposure to a loud sound as well as by repeated exposure to sounds at various loudness levels over an extended period of time. Noise induced hearing loss is the result of damage to the tiny hairs in the inner ear which detect and transmit sound to the brain. Because these tiny hairs are broken or damaged noise induced hearing loss cannot be cured.
NuSAC Nuclear Safety Advisory Committee
NVQ National Vocational Qualification. Work related, competence based qualifications.
 
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O
Occupational Health Occupational health is about the effect your work has on your health and about making sure that you are fit for the work you do.
Occupational Illness Any illness an employee suffers because of the hazards they have been exposed to at work.
OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
OH&S Occupational Health and Safety
OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Specification. Not yet adopted and an International Standard. OHSAS 18001 is an assessment specification for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, following the same format and structure as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. It is expected that OHSAS 18001 will be adopted as an international standard at some time in the future.
OHSAS A private company providing occupational health and safety advice. Formerly the Occupational Health and Safety Services for the NHS in Fife and Tayside.
OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The US Department of Labor department responsible for workplace safety in the US.
Oxidising Agent Strong oxidising agents are often very reactive chemicals and in contact with combustible materials, such as paper, sawdust of fabric, may for unstable mixtures which may constitute a risk of fire or explosion.
 
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P
PAT Testing Portable Appliance Testing.
Permit to Work A permit to Work is a formal, written procedure used to control work activities which are identified as particularly hazardous and where special precautions are required to control the hazards. Primarily used for non-routine work activities.
Personal Monitoring A technique used to determine an individual's personal exposure to a hazard, such as a hazardous substance or noise. This is usually achieved by using a personal sampling device worn on the person. The monitoring of hazardous chemicals is done at the mouth. The monitoring of noise is done at the ears.
PHA Process Hazard Analysis. An approach to hazard analysis which focuses on the hazards associated with a process. This approach may comprise HAZOP studies and "what-if" scenarios. A mainly US term, see OSHA.
Planning Supervisor A defined role within the The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994.
Poison A substance that can cause injury, illness or death.
Policy A statement of intent. See also Health and Safety Policy.
Portable Appliance An item of electrical equipment fitted with a plug.
ppb Parts per billion
PPE Personal Protective Equipment
ppm Parts per million
Practicable In health and safety law this term is usually taken as meaning 'that which is physically possible, in light of current knowledge and invention.'
Preventative Maintenance An approach to maintenance for preventing machinery and equipment failure through scheduled regular maintenance, knowledge of the reliability of the parts, maintenance service records, and maintaining a spares holding of the least reliable parts and the parts scheduled for replacement.
Procedure A step by step description of how to do a task, job or activity properly and safely.
Prohibition Notice A notice issued by the Health and Safety Executive that requires specified activities to cease, usually forthwith. Commonly issued following a serious accident if the inspector considers there is a likelihood of repetition.
Protective Hand Cream See Barrier Cream.
PUWER The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
Pyrophoric A substance that ignites spontaneously.
 
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Q
QA Quality Assurance
QC Quality Control
 
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R
Radioactive A substance which emits radioactivity
RCD Residual Current Device
Reactivity The capability of a substance to undergo a chemical reaction with the release of energy. This could include an increase in pressure or temperature or the formation of hazardous substances.
Reasonably Practicable The degree of risk in a particular situation can be balanced against the cost, in terms of time, trouble, money and physical difficulty of taking measures to avoid the risk. If this cost is disproportionate to the risk it would be unreasonable to expect any employer to incur those costs to avoid the risk.
Regulation Mandated by the government. Also a legal requirement (below the Health and Safety at Work etc Act) covering a specific area of health and safety legislation.
Relative Humidity A measure of the amount of water vapour in the air, relative to what the air can 'hold' at that temperature. Can have a big impact on the comfort level of a working environment.
Reproductive Toxins Toxins which may affect male or female reproductive organs and may affect the ability to have children.
Residual Current Device An electrical device that senses a leakage of current to earth and breaks the electrical supply.
Residual Risk The remaining risk after treatment or control measures have been put in place.
res ipsa loquitur Latin for 'The thing speaks for itself'. Legal term meaning to succeed in an action for negligence, the claimant must show on the balance of probabilities that the defendant's breach of a duty of care was causative of his (the claimant's) loss or injury.
RIDDOR The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995
Risk The chance, high or low, that somebody could be harmed by a hazard in the workplace, together with an indication of how serious the harm could be.
Risk Assessment A Risk Assessment is simply a careful examination of what, in your work, could cause harm to people so that you can weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent harm.
Risk Management The practical steps taken to protect people from real harm.
Risk Phrase The standard phrases defined in EH40 and used in the classification, packaging, labeling and provision of information on hazardous substances.
Root Cause The real or underlying cause of an event, as distinguished from the immediate cause or causes which are usually fairly obvious.
Root Cause Analysis A systematic analysis of the causes of an accident to try and identify the root causes.
RoSPA Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents
Routes of Entry The method by which a hazardous substance can enter the body. There are 4 main routes of entry, 1. Inhalation, 2. Injection, 3. Ingestion, 4. Absorption.
RPE Respiratory Protective Equipment
RSI Repetitive Strain Injury. The name given to a group of injuries affecting the muscles, tendons and nerves, primarily in the neck and upper limbs. RSI is often caused by a combination of overuse and repetition, awkward or static posture and insufficient recovery time.
RSP Registered Safety Practitioner
 
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S
Safe System of Work A method of work designed to eliminate hazards, where possible and to ensure that the work is performed in a safe manner.
Safety Audit An audit, as opposed to an inspection, is an independent, objective and systematic review of safety management arrangements. This should ensure that policies and procedures are in place to cover the risks present as well as confirming that these policies and procedures are being implemented and complied with.
Safety Case A formal requirement for Upper Tier COMAH sites. A documented set of evidence that provides a convincing and valid argument that a system or approach is adequately safe for a given application in a given environment.
Safety Committee A committee comprising management and worker safety representatives that reviews health and safety performance and promotes good health and safety practices with a view to improving health and safety performance.
Safety Culture The degree to which good working practices and positive attitudes towards health and safety are embedded within the culture of an organisation.
Safety Inspection A Safety Inspection, as opposed to a Safety Audit, is an examination of the actual conditions and working practices within a workplace.
Safety Passport A scheme used in various industries, but most notably construction, to provide a framework for safety training to ensure that workers are aware of the risks of their workplace before being allowed to work in that environment.
Safety Phrase The standard phrases defined in EH40 and used in the classification, packaging, labeling and provision of information on hazardous substances.
Sampling The process of taking small representative samples of a gas, liquid or solid for the purpose of analysis. Used to confirm Asbestos Containing Materials and in Environmental Monitoring.
SBS Sick Building Syndrome. A term used to describe the situation where building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to the time spent in the building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified.
Scaff Tag A proprietary brand of safety equipment for the inspection and management of safety on scaffolding systems.
Self Assessment Assessments that are performed by the individual. Usually performed following some form of training
Sensitisation The development, over time, of an allergic reaction to a hazardous substance. See Sensitisation Dermatitis.
Sensitiser A substance which may cause a person to develop an allergic reaction following repeated exposure.
SEPA Scottish Environment Protection Agency
Seveso Directive The Chemical Accidents directive, named after the Seveso accident which happened in 1976 at a chemical plant in Seveso, Italy and prompted the first Seveso Directive, which has since been replaced by the Seveso II directive.
SFARP So Far As Reasonably Practicable.
Short Term Exposure The exposure to a hazardous substance continuously over a short period of time.
Sick Building Syndrome A term used to describe the situation where building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to the time spent in the building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified.
SIL Safety Integrity Level. Originally defined in IEC61508, the European standard for safety in programmable electronic systems, as a measure of the dependability of of a safety related function. There are usually 4 defined levels of SIL, SIL 4 being the most dependable and SIL 1 being the least.
Six Pack The'Six Pack' was the UK Government's response to the EU Framework Directive and comprised;
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1992
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
The Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
SME Small and Medium Sized Enterprise
So Far As Reasonably Practicable The degree of risk in a particular situation can be balanced against the cost, in terms of time, trouble, money and physical difficulty of taking measures to avoid the risk. If this cost is disproportionate to the risk it would be unreasonable to expect any employer to incur those costs to avoid the risk.
Solubility The ability of a given substance to dissolve in a liquid.
Solvent A fluid which is capable of dissolving a material.
SRSCR The Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977
Statute Law The formal, written law of a country or state.
Stress Stress is defined by the HSE as "The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed on them."
Substitution An approach promoted in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations that promotes substituting a less harmful substance for a harmful substance.
SVQ Scottish Vocational Qualification.
Synergistic Effect Any effect of two chemicals acting together which is greater than the simple sum of their effects when acting alone.
Synonym Words with similar or identical meanings.
Systemic Affecting the whole body.
 
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T
Task Analysis Task Analysis is the analysis or breakdown of exactly how a task is performed. This analysis can then be used to improve the design of tools or processes to improve the safety of the task.
Teratogen A harmful substance which may adversely affect an unborn child. See also Embryotoxin and Fetotoxin.
TGWU Transport and General Workers Union
Time Weighted Average Usually calculated as an 8 hour TWA. An average value of exposure over the course of an 8 hour shift.
Tinnitus Tinnitus is the name given to the condition of noises 'in the ears' and/or 'in the head' with no external source. Tinnitus noises are described variously as ringing, whistling, buzzing and humming.
Toolbox Talks Toolbox talks are short, focused sessions that address one topic such as how to do a specialised job. They are not a substitute for formal training sessions but are meant as a reminder or refresher on the safety aspects of one particular area. They should be performed on a regular basis and should seek to involve shop floor workers.
Total Loss Approach A spin out from Total Quality Management (TQM). The traditional approach to health and safety management focuses specifically on technical and management factors associated with hazards. A Total Loss Approach concentrates on developing and implementing control systems and processes to eliminate the underlying causes of accidents and therefore reduce accidents.
Toxic A substance that is capable of causing injury or damage to a living organism.
Toxicity A measure of the degree to which a substance is toxic or poisonous, also defined as the potential of a substance to cause harm to living things.
Toxin A substance that is known to be harmful to biological systems
Trem Cards Transport Emergency Cards. Must be carried, displayed and made accessible in the vehicle cab when transporting a hazardous substance.
TUC Trades Union Congress
TWA Time Weighted Average
 
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U
UEL Upper Explosive Limit. The The level of concentration of an explosive gas above which an explosion will not occur due to insufficient oxygen. See also LEL.
Ultra Violet Light Electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength between that of visible light and X-Rays.
Ultra Sound Sound whose frequency is above the Audible Range.
Upper Tier Defined in the Control of Major Accident Hazard (COMAH) Regulations 1999 as any site with storage of flammable liquid in excess of 50,000 tonnes. Upper tier COMAH sites are required to produce a Major Accident Prevention Policy (MAPP) as well as a full Safety Report and on-site and off-site Emergency Plans.
UWED Use of Work Equipment Directive
 
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V
Vapour Gaseous form of a material normally encountered in a solid or liquid state.
VDU Visual Display Unit. Defined in and covered by the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992.
Ventilation Defined as the movement of air. In health and safety terms it is usually considered either as Dilution Ventilation or Local Exhaust Ventilation, both of which are used to reduce the harmful effects of hazardous substances.
Vibration Vibration experienced by the body as a result of using vibrating power tools. Usually classified either as whole body or hand-arm vibration. See also Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome.
Vibration White Finger A condition caused by exposure to hand held and other vibrating equipment. Excessive vibration can cause the blood vessels in the hand to constrict, which reduces the blood supply to the fingers causing tingling, numbness and whiteness. See also White Finger.
Vicarious Liability An employer can be found to be vicariously liable for negligent acts or omissions by their employee in the course of their employment whether or not such act or omission was specifically authorised by the employer. To avoid vicarious liability an employer must demonstrate that the employee was not negligent in that the employee was reasonably careful or that the employee was acting in his own right, rather than on the employer's business.
volenti non fit injuria Latin for 'to a willing person, no injury is done.' This doctrine holds that a person who knowingly and willingly puts himself in a dangerous situation cannot sue for any resulting injuries.
 
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W
WEEE The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive. A European directive intended to prevent the production of waste electrical and electronic equipment and encourage its reuse, recycling and recovery.
Whistleblower An employee or former employee who reports misconduct to people or authorities who have the power to take corective action. Generally the misconduct is a breach of law, regulation or public interest.
White Finger A condition caused by exposure to hand held and other vibrating equipment. Excessive vibration can cause the blood vessels in the hand to constrict, which reduces the blood supply to the fingers causing tingling, numbness and whiteness. See also Vibration White Finger.
WHO World Health Organisation
Workplace Exposure Limit A limit on the exposure to hazardous substances, established by the HSE in EH40. Defined as a Long-term exposure limit (over an 8 hour reference period) and a Short-term exposure limit (over a 15 minute reference period). generally measured in ppm or mg/m3.
Workplace Inspection An inspection of the workplace, conducted in an organised and structured manner, to identify and report existing and potential hazards.
Workstation A term used in the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 to refer not only to the Display Screen Equipment but also all associated equipment, such as desk, chair, lighting etc.
WRMSD Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorder
WRULD Work Related Upper Limb Disorder
 
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X
X-Ray Electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength in the 10 to 0.01nm. A form of ionising radiation, which can be dangerous. Usually used for diagnostic radiography, either in medicine or non destructive testing.
 
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Y
Young Person Defined by the The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations as someone between 16 & 18 years of age. Special provision is made to recognise their physical and psychological capacity and to protect them from harmful exposure to toxic and carcinogenic agents, radiation, risks from extreme heat or cold, excessive noise and vibration.
 
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Z
Zone 0 Areas in which an explosive mixture is continuously present or is present for long periods.
Zone 1 Areas in which the explosive mixture is likely to occur under normal working conditions.
Zone 2 Areas in which an explosive mixture is not likely to occur during normal working, but if it does, will only exist for a short time.
 
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Acknowledgements eHandS would like to thank the following people for their assistance in the compliation of this glossary;

Graham Lambie, Duncan Macintosh, M. Arif, Shafi, Rob Horton

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