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Jargon Busting - Glossary of Health & Safety Terminology

Health and Safety Terminology

We aim to make Health & Safety training as simple and straightforward as possible here at iHASCO. It's even one of our core values - Make Training Simple. But we understand that some Health & Safety Terminology can be difficult to understand and interpret, so we thought we'd put a glossary of terms together, with their meanings.

Health & Safety Terminology

Absenteeism - regularly not attending work or willful absence e.g. striking. (Not including involuntary or occasional absence from reasonable causes like sickness or accidents). 

Accident - An unplanned incident resulting in ill-health, injury, death or damage. 

ACOP - Approved Code of Practise. The HSE publish guidance in the form of ACOPs, they describe the recommended methods to comply with regulations imposed by the HASAWA. ACOPs are 'approved by the Health and Safety Executive, with the consent of the Secretary of State'.

Allergen - anything that causes an allergic reaction in the body, this might be a rash, anaphylactic shock or swelling of body parts, everyone's allergic reactions can be different.

Appointed Person - A designated responsible person who is assigned a role to take a supervisory position if there is an accident, injury or illness. This individual should have completed first aid training and have the skills or knowledge to deal with first aid.

Asbestos & Asbestosis - Asbestos is the name of a fibrous mineral that when disturbed, breaks into small fibres that can be inhaled, cause damage to the lungs and cause diseases like asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma (all associated with prolonged exposure). See more on our Complete Guide to Asbestos. Asbestosis is the damage of the lung tissue which is caused by inhaling asbestos fibres which makes breathing hard. 
If you disturb asbestos you must stop work immediately and report the problem.

Code of Practise - Are rules fixed by regulatory bodies (like the HSE) or trade associations that provide guidance to help work towards compliance with the law. 

Competent Person - A person who is correctly trained, experienced and qualified to undertake health and safety duties so that they do not pose a risk to the safety of themselves or others. 

Confined Space - An enclosed area that can cause harm via hazardous substances or conditions in the space. 

Corrosive - A substance that causes damage through a chemical reaction.

CoSHH - Stands for the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health, but What is CoSHH?

CPD - Continuing Professional Development is the term used for the learning activities that professionals engage in to develop their skills and abilities. All of our courses are CPD Accredited and users can earn points within minutes. 

DSE - Stands for Display Screen Equipment which is any display screens - computer monitors, laptops, tablets, TV screens and even smartphones. Those who use DSE on a regular basis legally require DSE Training

Emergency Plan - A plan that has specific instructions to be followed in an emergency. The aim should be to evacuate all people from a dangerous situation or environment. 

Fires - All fires are the result of three things - heat, oxygen, and a fuel source. There are 5 different classes of fire:

  • Class A - combustible materials 
  • Class B - flammable liquids
  • Class C - flammable gases
  • Class D - combustible metals 
  • Class F - cooking oils
  • Electrical fires - there is no class E. There fires ignite from electrical appliances but once the appliance is removed, the fire changes class

Flammability - Something that will easily catch fire. You can get flammable liquids, gasses and solids.

Glare - We have all probably experienced glare at some point. It is when a bright light (natural or artificial) bounces off a screen and impedes a person sight. This can sometimes cause headaches. 

Hazard - A situation that can cause harm, ill-health, injury or damage to property or the environment.

Health and Safety Representative - This might be a person that your organisation has appointed to represent fellow employees in health and safety issues at work. 

HSE - The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) is an authoritative organisation used to enforce, encourage and regulate health and safety legislation to business in the UK. 

IATP - The Independent Asbestos Training Providers, one of our approval bodies. 

IIRSM - The International Institute of Risk and Safety Management, one of our approval bodies. 

Incident (near miss) - Events that have not resulted in significant harm but could cause an accident, injury or damage under different circumstances. 

IOSH - The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, one of our approval bodies. 

Irritant - A substance that can cause irritation or inflammation to the body upon contact. 

Legislation - Is the law that has been enacted by legislature. It is the description of legal requirements and the punishment of breaking the law. 

LOLER - Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations. So what is LOLER?

Manual Handling - Tasks that require people to exert force to move/transport a load by lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving thereof. (HSE)

Method Statement - A statement that will detail how specific working practices should be conducted to ensure they are being carried out safely.

Musculoskeletal Disorder - injuries or disorders that affect the musculoskeletal system and body movement. 

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss - Irreversible damage caused by exposure to loud noise. 

Occupational Health - your health in regard to the work activities that you undertake.

Policy - a required statement adopted or proposed by an individual or business, in some cases, this is legally required and could consist of objectives, strategy and implementing it. 

PPE - Personal Protective Equipment. Equipment that is to be worn or held by someone to protect against health and safety hazards. 

Principal Contractor - Under CDM, a principal contractor is needed when there is more 1 contractor. 

Principal Designer - Under CDM, a principal designer is needed when there is more 1 designer. 

Reasonably Practicable - “‘Reasonably practicable’ is a narrower term than ‘physically possible’ … a computation must be made by the owner in which the quantum of risk is placed on one scale and the sacrifice involved in the measures necessary for averting the risk (whether in money, time or trouble) is placed in the other, and that, if it be shown that there is a gross disproportion between them – the risk being insignificant in relation to the sacrifice – the defendants discharge the onus on them.” -  Court of Appeal (in its judgment in Edwards v. National Coal Board, [1949] 1 All ER 743).

Regulations - In comparison to legislation, regulations are the process of monitoring and enforcing the law and the act of enforcement.

Risk Assessment - The HSE state that you must make a 'suitable and sufficient assessment' of risks to employees health and safety. This includes risks created because of your work that are going to affect people not in your employment.

RIDDOR - stands for Reporting of Injuries, Disease & Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013. But what is RIDDOR?.

RoSPA - The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, one of our approval bodies. 

Self-Assessment - an assessment that an individual carries out on their own work to determine how they are fulfilling their health and safety duties. 

Statue law - the formal law of the country (or state). 

Stress - While there is not a medical definition of stress, it is still regarded as a medical condition. An individual might feel stressed by situations or events that put pressure on them or the reaction to being placed under pressure. Work-related stress can be caused by big changes, too much pressure, worrying, lack of control and many other things.

Workstation - The equipment that employees require to fulfil their work. For DSE, a workstation might include a desk, computer, monitor, mouse & keyboard.

See our FAQs and Resources for more information on Workplace Health & Safety.

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