Safeti has collated a must-know list of important health and safety definitions for business leaders. If a term has a link on it, it means that we have related site content which you can click through to view or listen to.
Look out for some of the podcasts and videos that we’ve embedded alongside the health and safety definitions, helping you to grasp the key concepts.
We are continually adding to this list of health and safety definitions as we grow – please let us know if there’s anything you would like included by leaving us a comment at the bottom of the page.
A to C - Health and Safety Definitions
Immediate exposure to a hazardous substance over a short time period.
A substance that causes an allergic reaction in the body.
A designated person who has been nominated to take a supervisory role for a specific activity/event e.g. accident, injury or illness. The appointed person will have completed basic first aid training and have the skills and knowledge to deal with a first aid situation.
The name used for a group of fibrous silicate minerals that once inhaled, have adverse effects on health and can lead to fatal lung diseases.
The damage of lung tissue caused by asbestos, resulting in a shortness of breath.
An official inspection of the health and safety management arrangements of a premises, carried out by qualified auditors. The aim of an audit is to confirm that adequate control measures have been put in place to cover the risks and to ensure that these measures are being adhered to.
A way of delivering risk control practices which have been recognised by an authoritative body as cooperating with and even going beyond what is expected by the law.
Multiple exposures to a hazardous substance over a long period of time. This typically results in chronic health impacts on the individual e.g. loss of hearing, reduction in lung function etc.
Chartered Institute of Environmental Health – professional membership body concerned with environmental health and promoting standards in the training and education of environmental health professionals.
Code of Practice
A set of rules fixed by regulatory bodies (Health and Safety Executive) or trade associations which, although not law themselves, are intended to provide guidance on how to comply with the law.
Unwritten law which has been devised through prior court judgements rather than from written law. A breach of common law can however, result in a criminal offence.
An enclosed area that has the potential to cause serious harm from hazardous substances or conditions within the space e.g. lack of oxygen supply or increase in harmful gas levels.
A substance, usually a pollutant, which has been discovered in an area where it does not usually belong. It may have harmful effects on people, materials or the environment.
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health – this term is was created with the introduction of the COSHH Regulations in the United Kingdom – check out our podcast below for more help on COSHH.
D to F- Health and Safety Definitions
Display Screen Equipment
A device that has an alphanumeric or graphic display screen, such as a computer monitor. In the UK, this falls under the Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Regulations 1992.
A plan detailing the exact actions to be taken in the event of an emergency with the aim of evacuating all persons from dangerous environments or conditions.
Employer’s Health and Safety Responsibilities
Your duty as an employer under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA) and the associated Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations is to provide you with a safe and healthy workplace.
Listen to our podcast below to learn some of the key responsibilities for employers.
Working methods that have the potential to damage the musculoskeletal system, including forceful movements, vibration, extreme temperatures, improper lifting techniques and inappropriate workstations.
Preventative techniques applied to the manufacturing process of equipment for use in high-risk, explosive work environments.
There are 5 main classifications of fire;
Class A: fires with flammable solids such as wood, plastic and paper.
Class B: fires involving flammable liquids and electrical fires.
Class C: fires involving gases.
Class D: fires involving metals such as magnesium, potassium and titanium.
Class F: fires with cooking oils and fats.
Problem solving analysis method that helps to establish the root cause of an accident or incident – here’s an example of what a 5-whys diagram might look like. Alos, listen to our podcast for more help on this one.
The ease in which a substance will catch fire – information on this can be found in the SDS/MSDS (Safety Data Sheet).
The minimum temperature in which the vapour of a substance, when mixed with oxygen, will ignite when a flame is applied.
A method of ventilation, typically in the form of a cabinet with a moveable safety-glass front window. The air is drawn away from the worker or workspace to prevent contact with harmful vapours or gases given off by hazardous substances.
G to I - Health and Safety Definitions
Bright lights that reflect off a display screen and impede a person’s sight, often causing excessive eyestrain and headaches.
A device that prohibits access to a hazardous part of a machine or equipment.
A situation or behaviour that has the potential to cause harm, injury, ill-health or damage to property and the environment.
Find out the difference between hazard and risk –
An authoritative organisation that enforces health and safety legislation in the UK, including statute, approved codes of practice, regulations and guidance on work-related health issues.
Producing reports helps a business to measure performance and identify gaps and risks associated with any of the Health & Safety regulations to ensure compliance with industry standards and law
A health and safety policy sets out your general approach to health and safety. It should explain how you will manage health and safety in your business. The law in the UK says that every business must have a policy for managing health and safety.
Continued professional development (CPD) that helps employees understand and fulfil their legal and organisational responsibilities as relates to health and safety in the workplace
Health and Safety Representatives
A person that has been appointed by trade unions to represent their colleagues in regards to various issues of health and safety in the workplace.
Health Safety and Environment (HSE or EHS) is the department in a company or an organization tasked with ensuring that the work done by the company does not cause undue environmental damage, put the workers’ health and safety at high risk, complies with applicable legislation, and follows best practices.
A process of observation that involves monitoring any early symptoms of work related ill-health in employees who may be exposed to certain health risks. These may include hazardous liquids or gases.
A condition caused by excessive exposure to hot temperatures, usually caused by profuse sweating in warm, poorly ventilated working environments.
An extreme physical response to particular substances or environments.
The International Institute of Risk and Safety Management.
A formal notice that is given by an authoritative health and safety body following a breach of law. The notice will state the committed offence, what action needs to be taken for improvement and the specified date by which it must be taken.
The process of gathering information regarding the causes of an incident, with the purpose of formulating control measures to prevent the incident from reoccurring.
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health is the world’s largest health and safety membership body. The IOSH mission is ensuring that global work practices are safe, healthy and sustainable.
A non-corrosive substance which can cause inflammation on the body through contact.
L to O - Health and Safety Definitions
Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations in the UK. Introduced to help prevent the failure of lifting equipment and related injuries.
They cover a wide range of equipment including, cranes, forklift trucks, lifts, hoists, mobile elevating work platforms, and vehicle inspection platform hoist
Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations
Also known as the ‘Management Regs’, these came into effect in 1993. Main UK employer duties under the Regulations include:
- making ‘assessments of risk’ to the health and safety of its workforce, and to act upon risks they identify, so as to reduce them;
- appointing competent persons to oversee workplace health and safety;
- providing workers with information and training on occupational health and safety
Material Data Safety Sheet (MSDS)
A document that details information on potentially hazardous substances, along with guidance on how to handle them safely. Learn more about control of hazardous substances here.
A document that details how a particular working process will be conducted in a safe manner, typically used for construction or installation procedures.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss
An incurable condition caused by both acute and chronic exposure to a loud or persistent noise.
An exposure to 80dB or more requires assessment and/or mitigation in the workplace environment.
The relationship between a person’s health and the working activities that they undertake.
An illness that occurs in employees who have been exposed to hazards whilst at work e.g. asthma, dermatitis, asbestosis, silicosis, hand-arm vibration syndrome.
P to Z - Health and Safety Definitions
A legally required statement of a company strategy, consisting of their objectives to attain a safe working environment, their responsibilities, and the arrangements for implementing the strategy and achieving their aims.
The regular maintenance of work equipment to reduce the risk of failure.
A formal notice that is issued by an authorising health and safety body on discovery of a breach of statute that has the potential to cause an accident or injury. A Prohibition Notice commonly follows a serious accident, with the aim of preventing the hazard from developing or to put a stop to it if it is already in motion.
When the level of risk is weighed up against the cost (time, money, effort). If the cost outweighs the risk, then it may be deemed unreasonable for an employer to implement the measures.e
Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 – RIDDOR puts duties on employers, the self-employed and people in control of work premises (the Responsible Person) to report certain serious workplace accidents, occupational diseases and specified dangerous occurrences (near misses).
Routes of Entry
Ways in which hazardous substances can enter the body, including inhalation, injection, ingestion and absorption.
An assessment carried out by the individual to determine how safely they are working and fulfilling their health and safety duties.
Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme – a common training used in the construction industry.
The formal, written law of a country or state. An example would be the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Substances, usually poisonous, that cause irritation and have detrimental effects on health.
A ‘toxic’ symbol should be displayed on the substance container, and control measures provided in the Safety Data Sheet (SDS).
Work at height means work in any place where, if precautions were not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. You are working at height if you:
- work above ground/floor level
- could fall from an edge, through an opening or fragile surface or
- could fall from ground level into an opening in a floor or a hole in the ground
Work at height does not include a slip or a trip on the level, as a fall from height has to involve a fall from one level to a lower level, nor does it include using a permanent staircase. Here’s some more tips to manage Work at Height…
- Risk Matrix | Get it Right 1st Time & Prioritise Actions - April 14, 2021
- How to Assess the Risk | Health and Safety Masterclass - March 22, 2021
- Hazard Symbols COSHH | Identify the 9 Classes of Hazard - March 18, 2021