Glossary of

Health and Safety Terms
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Abnormal Event

An unplanned, unusual, occurrence or emergency


Taking a substance into the body by penetration through intact skin – one of the Routes of Entry


An undesired event resulting in death, injury, damage to health, damage to property or other form of loss


The limited ability for people to tolerate small departures from optimal conditions (equipment design, environment, etc) without significantly affecting performance, for example _ use of a chair that is a little too high or a little too low


Changes or alterations to scaffolding


Substance dispersed into the air such that the droplets or particles remain in suspension for a significant period of time


Association of Industrial Truck Trainers – Accrediting body for fork lift truck instructors


As low as reasonably Practical


Substance causing an allergic reaction in a person who is sensitive to that substance


Surrounding, e.g. Ambient temperature usually means the outside temperature

ACOP “Approved Code of Practice”

An Approved code of practice, associated with specific regulations, that has been approved by the Health & Safety Commission. A Code of Practice is seen as the accepted standard and can be used as evidence in a court of law. It is not mandatory to follow a Code of Practice but, to be acceptable, any alternative must be demonstrated to be of equal measure or better.


A fibrous mineral used extensively in the middle of the last century.  Harmful if disturbed when the fibres can be breathed in

Asbestos Management Plan

A requirement placed upon those persons responsible for non-domestic premises built before 1999.  Provides information on the ACMs to be found on the premises and how the risks from disturbing them is to be managed.


Illness – scarring of the lungs caused by breathing in asbestos

Asbestos Survey

Used to locate and identify ACMs on premises.  Either management (non-destructive) or Refurbishment and Demolition Type (required prior to all construction works on pre-1999 premises)


Asbestos Containing Materials


Environmental term – a company’s interaction with the environment


A systematic inspection to determine a company’s compliance with legislation and best practices


British Standards Institue

Best Practice

A standard of risk control that is above the legal minimum

(See Good Practice)

Biological Agents

A living organism or something made from a living organism that can be used beneficially (e.g. to prevent or treat disease) or maliciously (e.g. germ warfare)


Construction (Design & Management) Regulations


The letters “CE” do not represent any specific words but the mark is a declaration by the manufacturer, indicating that the product satisfies all relevant European Directives. Note, however, that the mark only applies to products that fall within the scope of European Directives.


Chlorofluorocarbons  – causal factor in ozone depletion


The Contractors Health & Safety Assessment Scheme – A pre-qualification accrediting body used by clients and contractors to determine competence of companies prior to appointment

Cherry Picker

A boom elevating work platform


Chemical Hazards Information and Packaging


Construction Industry Training Board


Carbon Monoxide


Cardon Dioxide


Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome “CTS”

A chronic disorder of the hand and wrist possibly resulting from repetitive work involving repeated wrist flexion or extension

Chapter 8

Guidance for managing street works – signs, barriers, etc


Occurring over an extended period of time


Pronounced “scissors”  Construction Industry Scaffold Registration Scheme


Chartered Member of the Institution for Occupational Safety & Health – diploma or NVQ level 4/5 plus further exam and peer review

Combustible Liquid

Liquid with a flash point above 37.8 C (100° F)

Common Law

Source of law that is not written in statute but which has been developed through judicial precedent. A breach of common law could result in a criminal offence or a civil action for damages.

Competent Person

A person who is appropriately trained, qualified, experienced and skilled to undertake specific health and safety duties without risk to their own safety or that of others


The act or process of fulfilling requirements


“Control of Substance Hazardous to Health” Regulations promoting safe working with potentially hazardous chemicals, dusts, etc


A Substance that causes destruction of another substance, including human tissue


Acronym for construction phase plan – needed for all construction works


Construction Plant Certification Scheme


Construction Skilss Certification Scheme




Disability Discrimination Act


Demolition Operative Safety Awareness (1 day training) aka SADO


Dangerous Substances & Explosive Atmosphere Regulations

Display Screen Equipment “DSE”

Any alphanumeric or graphic display screen regardless of the process employed to display the information. Typical examples include computer monitors and microfilm viewers


Environmental Agency


Exposure Action Value – time at which controls must be implemented to reduce exposure to  vibration


Exposure Limit Value – time which must not be exceeded for exposure to vibration


Electricity at Work Regulations


Environmental Health Office

Employment Medical Advisory service “EMAS”

Part of the Health and Safety Executive, offering advice on work related health issues and on people with health problems returning to work


The application of information about human characteristics to design applications, e.g. equipment, tools, work tasks, with the aim of improving safety and efficiency


Fork Lift Truck


Fire Risk Assessment


Fees for Intervention


Transient reduced ability to work as a result of previous activity, resulting in reduced efficiency


Class A – Fires in ordinary combustible materials such as wood, cloth, paper

Class B – Fires in flammable liquids and liquefiable solids or electrical fires

Class C – Fires involving gases.

Class D – Fires involving combustible metals such as potassium or sodium

Class F – Fires involving cooking oils or fats

Flammable Gas

Gas that when mixed with air forms a flammable mixture at ambient temperature and pressure

Flammable Liquid

Liquid with a flashpoint below 100°F (37.8°C)

Flammable Solid

Solid that is liable to cause fires through friction, absorption of moisture, etc. or which can be readily ignited


Graduate Member Institution of Occupational Safety & Health – completed diploma or NVQ Level 4/5 but not the exam or peer review


Health & Safety at Work Act


Potential for Harmful effects

Health & Safety Executive “HSE”

Organisation responsible for proposing safety regulations throughout the UK. It is responsible for enforcing, statute, regulations, approved codes of practice and guidance.


A lorry mounted crane intended for loading and unloading the lorry


Institution of Occupational Safety & Health – memberships run from Tech, Grad, Chartered and Fellow


Environmental term – the effect of a companies interaction with the environment

Improvement Notice

A statutory notice that is issued by an authorising body such as Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Environmental Health Officer (EHO) or Fire Officer on discovery of a breach of statute. It states that an offence has been committed, what action needs to be taken, the reason for the action and the time deadline by which it must be taken.

Incident (or Near Miss)

TA generic term for those events that do not cause harm but which might have done so under different circumstances


Taking a substance into the body through the mouth, for example in the form of food or drink – one of the Routes of Entry


Taking a substance, typically in the form of gases, fumes, vapours, mists, aerosols or dusts, into the body by breathing it in – one of the Routes of Entry


A substance which, when added to another substance, prevents or slows down an unwanted change or reaction


Taking a substance directly into the body by puncturing the skin, for example with a needle – one of the Routes of Entry


International Powered Access Federation – accrediting body for training to operate MEWPS


A substance that produces inflammation when it makes contacts with the skin, eyes, nose, or respiratory system


Independent Training Standards Scheme & Register – accrediting body for plant training


Key Performace Indicator


Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations

Liquid Petroleum Gas “LPG”

LPG consists of commercial Butane, Propane or a mixture of the two. Major hazards are fire and explosion, though asphyxiation is also a danger in low lying areas due to LPG being heavier than air


Maximum Exposure Limit


Mobile Elevating Work Platform – such as a scissor lift or cherry picker


Manual Handling Operations Regulations


Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations


Musculoskeletal Disorder

Manual Handling Operations

Tasks that require a person to exert force in order to lift, lower, push, pull, move, carry, hold or restrain an object

Material Safety Data Sheets “MSDS”

Contain information on the hazards associated with a chemical, along with guidance on its safe use


Cancer – caused by asbestos


Noise at Work Regulations


National Examination Board of Occupational Safety and Health


Can be either the omission to do something that a reasonable person would do when guided by those considerations that ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs, or the commission of some act that a prudent and reasonable person would not do.


National Plant Operators Registration Scheme – a training accreditation body.


New Roads & Street Works Act

OHSAS 18001

BSI Standard for Occupational Health & Safety


Prefabricated access suppliers and manufacturers association – industry recognised accreding body for training in building mobile towers (however pasma accreditation is not a legal requirement)


Portable Appliance Test


Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (plan to detail how mobility impaired persons can be evacuated in an emergency)


Personal Protective Equipment


Pre-Qualification Questionnaires – used to determine health and safety competence


Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations


Remaining for an extended period of time. Applicable to some chemicals (e.g. DDT) that do not easily break down into less hazardous substances

Permit to Work

Formally delivered criteria for control/risk reduction when undertaking pre-planned work that is hazardous, either because of its location or the nature of the activity.

Preventive Maintenance

Maintenance (including inspection, cleaning, and repair) of equipment on a regular basis that is sufficient to prevent unplanned failure

Principal Contractor

A role specified under CDM where there are more than 2 contractors

Principal Designer

A role specified under CDM where there are more than 2 contractors

Prohibition Notice

A statutory notice that is issued by an authorising body such as Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Environmental Health Officer (EHO) or Fire Officer on discovery of a breach of statute that presents a risk of serious personal accident. The effect of the Prohibition Notice is to stop the activity from starting or to cause it to cease if it has already started.


Reporting of Injuries, Disease & Dangerous Occurrences Regulations


Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents


Respiratory Protective Equipment


Repetitive Strain Injury

Risk & Method Statements “RAMS”

Site Documentation which consists of a Method Statement (S) and asscoiated Risk Assessments to accompany the MS, this may also include assessments for “COSHH, Noise, Vibration and Manual Handling”


A statutory device made under a general provision that is contained in an act of parliament. Regulations themselves are approved by parliament and are generally absolute legal standards.

Residual Current Device “RCD”

An electrical safety device that constantly monitors the electric current flowing through a circuit. If it senses a loss of current where electricity is being diverted to earth (as might happen if a person touches a live conductor), it rapidly shuts down the power.


A quantifiable expression of the likelihood of injury or harm resulting from a hazard

Risk Assessment

A formal estimation of the likelihood that persons may suffer injury or adverse health effects as a result of identified hazards

Risk Management

The introduction of change or control measures with the intention of eliminating or bringing the level of risk associated with a hazard within acceptable limits

Routes of Entry

The various ways in which toxic substances may enter the body, including; Absorption, Ingestion, Inhalation, Injection and Eye-splashes

Safe Systems of Work “SSOW”

A method of working designed to eliminate, if possible, or otherwise reduce risks to health and safety

Safety Culture

A general term for the degree to which the culture of an organisation promotes and cooperates with safe and healthy work practices

Scissor Lift

A mobile elevating work platform – sometimes referred to as a flying carpet


Development, over time, of an allergic reaction to a substance


Substance that may cause a person to develop an allergic reaction after repeated exposure

Site Safety Evaluation

Also referred to as a site inspection – not as in depth as an audit but intended to identify hazards and to determine the level of compliance with legislation, best practice, policies and procedures


Safety Management Assessment Specialists – Another competence assessment scheme


CITB Site Managers Safety Training Scheme (5 days)


Substance that is capable of dissolving another substance


Safety Schemes in Procurement – an umbrella organisation for competence accreditation schemes intended to remove the need for duplication.


CITB Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (2 days)


That which might result when an event or situation places increased demand on a person’s mental or emotional resources. Sources of stress may arise from domestic or social situations as well as occupational circumstances.

The individual’s response to such situations can lead to health and safety related problems such as depression, cardiovascular disease, musculo-skeletal disorders and an increased tendency to be accident-prone.


Technician Member Institution of Occupational Safety & Health – entry level


Inflammation and swelling of the tendon sheaths, usually of the wrist or hand, potentially caused by repetitive movements such as very high-speed typing rates


Substances that cause irritation of are otherwise harmful to health, such as carcinogens and poisons


The gaseous form of a substance that is normally liquid or solid at room temperature


Work Related Upper Limb Disorder

Workplace Exposure Limit

Established concentration of a substance that, if not exceeded, will not normally result in adverse effects to persons who are exposed