Health, Safety and Environment has its own terms, acronyms and abbreviations.

In some cases the terms occur in everyday speech but, in Health and Safety, some have different shades of meaning to their common usage.

We have attempted to express our definitions in laymen's terms and therefore should not be assumed to have any legal standing.

Health and Safety Terms

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

Abnormal Event - An unplanned, unusual, occurrence or emergency

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

Adaptation - 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

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

Air Exchange Rate - The rate at which inside air is replaced by outside air. The rate may be expressed as the number of changes of air per unit of time (e.g. Air Changes per Hour - ACH) or the volume of air exchanged per unit of time (e.g. Cubic Feet per minute (CFM)

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

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

Anthropometric Dimensions - The dimensions of the human body. These may be static measurements (i.e. when the subject standing or seated) or functional (i.e. when the person assumes an unnatural posture)

Apparent Loudness - Measurement in decibels of sound pressure measured against the threshold of hearing, being 0 decibels. The pain threshold is 120 decibels and an increase of 3 decibels is perceived as doubling in loudness

Appointed Person - A person who has been nominated to take charge in the event of an accident or illness (and support designated first aiders if present) and has been trained in basic lifesaving first aid techniques (See Designated Person)

Approved Code of Practice - A 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.

Asbestos - Hydrated magnesium silicate in fibrous form

Audible Range - Normal hearing frequency, approximately 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz

Background Level - The normal or typical level of a chemical in the environment, often referring to the naturally occurring level

Best Practice - A standard of risk control that is above the legal minimum (See Good Practice)

Biological Agent - 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)

Boiling Point - Temperature at which a liquid changes to a gas at normal atmospheric pressure

Carcinogen - Substance that is known or suspected of causing cancer

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

Catalyst - A substance that initiates or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected by the reaction

Central Nervous System - The part of the nervous system that includes the brain and spinal cord

Cervical Spine - The uppermost 7 vertebrae of the spine which, being very delicate, is prone to degenerative processes

Chronic - Occurring over an extended period of time

Code of Practice - Rules established by regulatory bodies or trade associations, which are intended as a guide to acceptable behaviour. As such they do not have the force of law behind them

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

Compliance - The act or process of fulfilling requirements

Compressed Gas - Substance that is a gas at normal pressure and room temperature but is held in a pressurised container resulting in it becoming a liquid

Concentration - The quantity of one substance contained in another substance e.g. the amount of salt dissolve in sea water

Contaminant - Substance - usually undesirable - in another substance, product or space where it is not normally found, e.g. environmental pollutants

Contrast - The difference in brightness between the subject (e.g. text) and the background against which it is viewed

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health - Regulations promoting safe working with potentially hazardous chemicals

Corrosive - Substance that causes destruction of another substance, including human tissue

Cryogenics - Materials that exist at extremely low temperatures, e.g. liquid nitrogen

Cutaneous - Pertaining to or affecting the skin

Designated Person - A person who has been designated as a first aider at work and has been trained to have the knowledge and confidence to deal with any first aid emergency (See Appointed Person)

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

Dose - The amount of substance to which a person is exposed in terms of the concentration of the substance and the time period during which the exposure occurs

Employment Medical - Advisory Service Part of the Health and Safety Executive, offering advice on work related health issues and on people with health problems returning to work.

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

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

Fires - Class A - Fires in ordinary combustible materials such as wood, cloth, paper, etc.

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

Fire Prevention - Precautions designed to avoid an outbreak of fire, reduce the potential for fire to spread and safeguard persons and property in the event of fire

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

Flash Point - The lowest temperature at which a flame will propagate through the vapour of a combustible material

Freezing Point - Temperature at which a liquid becomes a solid, at normal atmospheric pressure

Glare - When a portion of the visual field has a significantly higher luminance than its surroundings, resulting in reduced contrast

Good Practice - HSE Definition: Those standards for controlling risk which have been judged and recognised by the HSE as satisfying the law when applied to a particular relevant case in an appropriate manner. (See Best Practice)

Hazard - Potential for harmful effects

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

Illuminance - A measure of the amount of light falling on a particular point, measured in Lux

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

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

Inhalation - 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

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

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

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

Liquid Petroleum Gas - 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

Lock-Off - Mechanisms that, as part of engineering controls, are designed to prevent potentially dangerous equipment from being energised during routine maintenance and/or repair work

Lumbar Spine - The lower 5 vertebrae of the spine, situated below the thoracic vertebrae and above the sacral vertebrae

Luminance - A measure of the amount of light emitted or reflected by a surface in a given direction

Lux - Unit of measurement of illumination, equivalent to lumen per square

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 Data Safety Sheet - Contain information on the hazards associated with a chemical, along with guidance on its safe use

Mutagen - Something that is able to cause a mutation (or genetic change) in a living cell

Narcotic - A substance that has the potential to affect the nervous system by, for example, inducing drowsiness, stupor or insensibility

Near Miss - See "Incident"

Negligence - 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.

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

Parts per Billion - Specifies the concentration by volume of a substance dispersed in another substance

Parts Per Million - Specifies the concentration by volume of a substance dispersed in another substance

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.

Planning Supervisor - Responsible under Construction (Design and Management) Regulations for coordinating the health and safety aspects of the design, preparation of a health and safety plan at the pre-tender stage and preparation of the health and safety file.

Policy - A statement of an organisation _ s strategy for achieving a safe and healthy working environment and the responsibility, organisation and arrangements for pursuing and implementing the strategy

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

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.

Regulation - 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 - 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.

Relative Humidity - The percentage ratio of vapour pressure in the atmosphere compared to the saturated vapour pressure at that temperature

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

Safety Committee - A committee that promotes health and safety in the workplace, with members representing employees and management from all sections of an organisation

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

Self-Assessment - Assessments performed by individuals (or organizations) to determine how safely they are working and meeting their health & safety responsibilities toward themselves and others

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

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

Solubility - Ability of a substance to dissolve in a liquid

Solvent - Substance that is capable of dissolving another substance

Stress - 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.

Synovial Fluid -A viscous fluid that lubricates joints and tendon sheaths

Tenosynovitis - 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

Thoracic Spine - The mid and upper regions of the back, comprising 12 vertebrae that occupy the same level as the rib cage

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

Toxicity - The potential for a substance to be harmful to health

UN Hazard Codes - Class 1 - Explosive

Class 2 - Gases

Class 3.1 - Flammable liquids, flash point below -18C

Class 3.2 - Flammable liquids, flash point between -18C and 23C

Class 3.3 - Flammable liquids, flash point between 23C and 61C

Class 4.1 - Flammable solids

Class 5.1 - Oxidizing agents

Class 5.2 - Organic peroxides

Class 6.1 - Poisonous substances

Class 7 - Radioactive substances

Class 8 - Corrosive substances

Class 9 - Miscellaneous dangerous substances

NR - Non-regulated

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

Ventilation - Movement of air, usually associated with the introduction of fresh air

Volatility - Ability of a substance to evaporate

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

Workstation - The combination of equipment items that a user requires to fulfil their allotted tasks. In Display Screen Equipment terms, the components might include: desk, chair, computer monitor, keyboard, processing unit and such ancillary equipment as required by the work, such as document holder or telephone.

Wrist Extension & Flexion - Bending movement of hand and wrist from the horizontal (up or down respectively). Causes tendons to curve around structures in the wrist, possibly causing friction, which can in turn result in fatigue or injury

Health and Safety Abbreviations

ACOP - Approved Code of Practice

ADR - European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (see RID)

ALARP - As Low as Reasonably Practicable (see SFAIRP)

BMA - British Medical Association

BOHS - British Occupational Hygiene Society

BSI - British Standards Institute

BTS - British Toxicology Society

C(WP) - Construction (Work Place) Regulations

CBI - Confederation of British Industry

CDG - The Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road Regulations

CDM - Construction (Design & Management) Regulations

CE - 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.

CFC - Chlorofluorocarbons

CFM - Cubic Feet per Minute. Amount of air flowing through a given space in one minute. One CFM approximately equals Two litres per second (l/s)

CHIP - Chemical Hazards Information and Packaging

CO - Carbon Monoxide

CO2 - Carbon Dioxide

COMAH - Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations

CONIAC - Construction Industry Advisory Committee

COSHH - Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations

CNS - Central Nervous System

CRT - Cathode Ray Tube

CTS - Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

CVD - Cardiovascular Disease

DB - Decibel

DDA - Disability Discrimination Act

DSE - Display Screen Equipment

DSEAR - Dangerous Substances & Explosive Atmosphere Regulations

EA - Environmental Agency

EAW - Electricity at Work Regulations

EHO - Environmental Health Officer

EMAS - Eco-Management and Audit Scheme

EMAS - Employment Medical Advisory Service

FA - Factories Act

FH(G) - Food Hygiene (General) Regulations

FLT - Fork Lift Truck

FPA - Fire Precautions Act

FPWR - Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations

GMC - General Medical Council

GP - General Practitioner

H&S - Health & Safety

HAZCHEM - Hazardous Chemical Warning Signs

HR - Human Resources

HSC - Health & Safety Commission

HSDSER - Health & Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations

HSE - Health & Safety Executive

HASWA - Health & Safety at Work Act

ICOH - International Commission on Occupational Health

IOD - Institute of Directors

IOSH - Institution of Occupational Safety & Health

LOLER - Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations

LPG - Liquid Petroleum Gas

MAPP - Major Accident Prevention Policy

MEL - Maximum Exposure Limit

MHOR - Manual Handling Operation Regulations

MHSWR - Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations

MSD - Musculoskeletal Disorder

MSDS - Material Data Safety Sheet

NAWR - Noise at Work Regulations

NEBOSH - National Examination Board of Occupational Safety and Health

NHS - National Health Service

NIHL - Noise Induced Hearing Loss

OHAC - Occupational Health Advisory Committee of The Health & Safety Commission

OHSAS 18001 - BSI Standard for Occupational Health & Safety

OSRPA - Offices Shops & Railway Premises Act

PAT - Portable Appliance Test

PPE - Personal Protective Equipment

PPEWR - Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations

Ppb - Parts Per Billion

Ppm - Parts Per Million

PUWER - Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations

QA/QC - Quality Assurance/Quality Control

RCD - Residual Current Device

RID - European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail (see ADR)

RIDDOR - Reporting of Injuries, Disease & Dangerous Occurrences Regulations

RITA - Record of In-Training Assessment

RoSPA - Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

RPE - Respiratory Protective Equipment

RSA - Regional Specialty Adviser

RSI - Repetitive Strain Injury

SBS - Sick Building Syndrome

SFAIRP - So Far As Is Reasonably Practicable (see ALARP)

TUC - Trades Union Congress

VDU - Visual Display Unit

WHO - World Health Organisation

WHSWR - Workplace (Health Safety & Welfare) Regulations

WRULD - Work Related Upper Limb Disorder