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Wirehouse Health and Safety Glossary

Wirehouse Health and Safety Glossary

Date: 3rd April 2018 | Categories: Health and Safety

Navigate your way through health and safety terms with our handy, fully searchable glossary.

Adventure Activities Licensing Authority AALA

The licensing authority for outdoor activity centres for young people in Great Britain. Since 2007 it has been part of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the government body charged with overseeing health and safety in all workplaces. AALA inspect and issue licences to providers. These licences give an assurance that, so far as is reasonably practicable, participants and employees can be ‘safe’.

The Adventure Activities Licensing Service AALS

Came into existence on 1 April 2007. The AALS is presently operated by TQS Ltd, a not-for-profit company under contract to the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA). TQS Ltd was previously the AALA.

Association of British Certification Bodies ABCB

Actively promotes nationally accredited certification and works with government departments, trading standards, purchasers and specifiers, UKAS and other stakeholders to promote its benefits. Membership of ABCB is restricted to certification bodies that are accredited by UKAS, or another recognized national accreditation body, or that are actively seeking national accreditation.

Association of Building Engineers ABE

A leading body for professionals specialising in the design, construction, evaluation and maintenance of building construction.

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.

Association of Consultant Architects ACA

The national professional body representing architects in private practice – consultant architects – throughout the UK. Founded in 1973, it now represents some of the country’s leading practices, ranging in size from one-person firms to very large international organisations.


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

Association for Consultancy and Engineering ACE

Represents the business interests of its members and the consultancy and engineering industry in the UK.

The Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens ACDP

Role is to provide scientific advice on the risks to exposure to pathogens and risk assessment advice on transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs).

Asbestos Containing Materials ACM

Thermal System Insulation. Asbestos includes chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite asbestos, anthophyllite asbestos, actinolite asbestos, and any of these minerals that have been chemically treated and/or altered. Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) means any material containing more than one percent asbestos.

Approved Code of Practice ACOP

Give practical advice from the HSE on how to comply with health and safety law. Following the advice in the ACOP shows that organisations are doing enough to comply with the law. If a company is prosecuted for a breach of health and safety law and it is proved that it has not followed the relevant provisions of the ACOP, a court can find it at fault unless the company can show that it has complied with the law in some other way.

The Advisory Committee on Pesticides ACP

A statutory body set up by Ministers under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 to advise on all matters relating to the control of pesticides.

Advisory Committee on Toxic Substances ACTS

Advise the European Commission on matters relating to the prevention, control and management of hazards and risks to the health and safety of persons, arising from the supply or use of toxic substances at work, with due regard to any related risks to consumers, the public and the environment.

Acute exposure

Immediate exposure to a hazardous substance over a short time period.


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.

Approved Centre

An organisation undertaking the delivery of qualifications.

As Low as Reasonably Practicable ALARP and SFAIRP So Far as Low as Reasonably Practicable

These two terms mean essentially the same thing and at their core is the concept of “reasonably practicable”; this involves weighing a risk against the trouble, time and money needed to control it. Thus, ALARP/SFAIRP describes the level to which we expect to see workplace risks controlled.


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


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

Appointed Person

A designated person who has been nominated to take a supervisory role in the event of an 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.

Association for Project Safety APS

Provides education, guidance and training to their members to seek best practice to those who have an interest in construction health and safety risk management.

Asbestos Removal Contractors Association ARCA

Represents the interests of over 300 members from the UK asbestos removal industry. ARCA provides a Site Audit Accreditation Scheme to ensure that members are working to the highest standards. ARCA also provides training including, asbestos removal training courses.


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)

The Association for Specialist Fire Protection ASFP

A trade association relating to ‘Built-In’ fire protection.


Environmental term – a company’s interaction with the environment.

Atmosphere Explosive ATEX

The name normally given to two European Directives which set out the minimum requirements for improving the health and safety protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres.


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

Awarding Organisation

An organisation recognised by the qualifications regulators.

Breathing Apparatus BA

A type of Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) which needs a supply of breathing quality air from an independent source (e.g. air cylinder or air compressor). It is designed to protect the wearer against inhalation of hazardous substances in the workplace air.

British Approvals Service for Electrical Equipment in Flammable Atmospheres) BASEEFA

SGS BASEEFA is an international certification body for explosion protected equipment, delivering IECEx, ATEX and DSEAR certification to customers around the globe.

Blood Borne Viruses/ Blood Borne Pathogens BBV/BBP

Viruses and pathogens that some people carry in their blood and which may cause severe disease in certain people and few or no symptoms in others and include hepatitis and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

Best Practice

A standard of risk control that is above the legal minimum.

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).

British Occupational Hygiene Society BOHS

The learned and professional body representing the scientific discipline and profession of occupational hygiene in the UK.

British Standards Institute BSI

BSI Group, also known as the British Standards Institution, is the national standards body of the United Kingdom.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome “CTS”

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

Chemical Abstracts Service CAS

A division of the American Chemical Society, is a world authority for chemical information.

Cable Avoiding Tools CAT

Used to locate underground cables and conductors for buried services to be avoided during, e.g. excavations.

Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations CAWR

A key part of these regulations is to manage the risk from asbestos in non-domestic premises. It explains the duties of building owners, tenants and any other parties who have a legal responsibility for the premises or those who may work in the premises, e.g. contractors.

Construction (Design and Management) Regulations CDM

Places legal duties on Clients, Designers, Principal Designers, Contractors, Principal Contractors and workers. The HSE need to be notified about certain construction projects.


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 CFC

Causal factor in ozone depletion.

The Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme CHAS

An independent organisation undertaking health and safety pre-qualification assessments to a nationally recognised and accepted threshold standard.

Cherry picker-

A boom elevating work platform.

Chemical (Hazard Information and Packaging) Regulations CHIP

Require all chemicals supplied to be identified with any inherent hazards, e.g. via a hazard label using approved symbols. This allows users to know a chemical’s potential harm and how to protect against it. The CHIP regulation is gradually being replaced by the Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures, CLP Regulations.


Occurring over an extended period.

Chartered Institute of Environmental Health CIEH

A registered charity and the professional voice for environmental health.


Pronounced “scissors” Construction Industry Scaffold Registration Scheme.

Confined Space

An enclosed area that has the potential to cause serious harm from hazardous substances or conditions within the space.

Construction Industry Training Board CITB

Supports the construction industry. Working with industry, for industry, to deliver a safe, professional and fully qualified UK construction workforce.

Control of Lead at Work Regulations CLAW

Excessive exposure to lead, including its compounds, can cause lead poisoning. The CLAW Regulations require employers to protect the health of people at work by preventing or, where this is not reasonably practicable, adequately controlling their exposure to lead.

Chartered Member of the Institution for Occupational Safety & Health CMIOSH

Diploma or NVQ level 4/5 plus further exam and peer review.

Carbon Monoxide CO

A colourless, odourless toxic flammable gas formed by incomplete combustion of carbon.

Carbon Dioxide CO2

A colourless, odourless gas produced by burning carbon and organic compounds and by respiration. It is naturally present in air (about 0.03 per cent) and is absorbed by plants in photosynthesis.

Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations COMAH

The main aim of COMAH is to prevent and mitigate the effects of those major accidents involving dangerous substances, which can cause serious damage/harm to people and/or the environment. The regulations mainly apply to the chemical industry.

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.

Construction Industry Advisory Committee CONIAC

Advises the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on the protection of people at work (and others) from hazards to health and safety within the building, civil engineering and engineering construction industry.

Council for Registered Gas Installers CORGI

Gas Safe Register replaced CORGI as the gas registration body in Great Britain and Isle of Man on 1 April 2009 and Northern Ireland and Guernsey on 1 April 2010. By law, all gas engineers must be on the Gas Safe Register.


A substance, usually a pollutant, which has been discovered in an area where it does not usually belong.


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

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations COSHH

Require employers to protect the health of employees and other persons from hazardous substances in the workplace. Employers need to consider preventing or reducing exposure by identifying hazardous substances in the workplace, assessing the risks, providing suitable control measures to reduce harm to health, providing information, instruction and training for employees and others, providing monitoring and health surveillance in appropriate cases and planning for emergencies.

Control Measures

Actions that have been put in place to regulate and reduce the risks associated with the work being carried out.

Convention of Scottish Local Authorities COSLA

Promote and protect the interests of councils in Scotland and the people and communities they serve by representing their views to central government, other bodies and the public. Their priorities include promoting the role of local government as a vital sphere of government in Scotland; championing local services, local leadership and local accountability; and working with the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament to influence public policy and to fight for resources.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation CPR

A first aid technique that can be used if someone is not breathing properly or if their heart has stopped.

Crown Prosecution Service CPS

Responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales.

Care Quality Commission CQC

Check hospitals, care homes, care services and Dentists in England to ensure they meet national standards.

Construction Skills Certification Scheme CSCS

A competence card scheme for construction. There is a range of CSCS cards depending on the type of work being undertaken and cards can be obtained by demonstrating occupational competence and, in most cases, the Construction Skills Health Safety and Environment Test will need to be passed.

Corporate Social Responsibility CSR

Can be defined as a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome CTS

A relatively common health condition that causes pain, numbness and a tingling sensation in the hand and fingers.

Decibels dB

In relation to noise, the decibel is a unit used to measure the intensity of a sound.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs DEFRA

The UK government department responsible for policy and regulations on the environment, food and rural affairs.

Department for Education and Skills DFES

Was a UK government department between 2001 and 2007. It was responsible for the education system and children’s services in England.

Display Screen Equipment DSE

Includes conventional (cathode-ray tube) display screens, liquid crystal or plasma displays used in flat-panel screens, touch-screens, display screens used to display line drawings, graphs, charts or computer-generated graphics, television screens, microfiche, screens used for process control or closed-circuit television (CCTV).

The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations DSEAR

Concerned with preventing or limiting the harmful effects of fires, explosions and similar energy releasing events.

The Environment Agency EA

An Executive Non-Departmental Public Body responsible to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Their principal aims are to protect and improve the environment, and to promote sustainable development.

Electrical Contractors Association ECA

A trade association representing the interests of contractors who design, install, inspect, test and maintain electrical and electronic equipment and services.

An Environmental Health Officer EHO

Ensures that people’s living and working surroundings are safe, healthy and hygienic. They work in both the private and public sectors.

Emergency Plan

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.

Employment Medical Advisory Service EMAS

Made up of medically qualified people who study and advise on occupational health. The main functions of EMAS are to help prevent work-related ill health; to advise people who have occupational health problems on the type of work which will and will not suit them; and to ensure appropriate bio-medical examinations of workers in certain hazardous processes which are required by regulations.

Ergonomic Hazards

Working methods that have the potential to damage the musculoskeletal system, including forceful movements, vibration, extreme temperatures, improper lifting techniques and inappropriate workstations.

Explosive Proof Protection

Preventative techniques applied to the manufacturing process of equipment for use in high-risk, explosive work environments.

First Aid

The immediate medical attention given to an ill or injured person to preserve life, avert the risk of further injury and advance recovery. Ideally, occupational injury should be treated by an appointed person(s), who will have the sufficient knowledge and capabilities to perform basic first aid techniques and utilise the contents of their medical kit.

Fees for Intervention FFI

If you are found to be in material breach of health and safety law, you will have to pay for the time it takes us to identify the breach and help you put things right.

Fork Lift Truck FLT –

A powered industrial truck used to lift and transport materials.

Federation of Master Builders FMB

A source of knowledge, professional advice and support for its members, providing a range of building business services to save them time and money.

Falling Object Protective Structure(s) FOPS

Where people are carried on mobile work equipment and are at significant risk of injury from falling objects (whilst the equipment is in use), a FOPS, e.g. suitably strong safety cab or protective cage should be provided.

Fire Risk Assessment FRA

An organised and methodical look at premises, the activities carried out there and the likelihood that a fire could start and cause harm to those in and around the premises. The aims of the fire risk assessment are:

  • To identify the fire hazards.
  • To reduce the risk of those hazards causing harm, to as low as reasonably practicable.
  • To decide what physical fire precautions and management arrangements are necessary to ensure the safety of people in the premises if a fire does start.


The ease in which a substance will catch fire.

Flammable Gas

A gas with a low flammability limit that can be readily ignited when mixed with air.

Flammable Liquid

A liquid which can readily catch fire.

Flammable Solid

Solids that are liable to cause fires through friction or absorption of moisture.

Flash Point

The minimum temperature in which the vapour of a substance, when mixed with oxygen, will ignite when a flame is applied.

Fume cupboard

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.

Food Standards Agency FSA

An independent government department responsible for food safety and hygiene across the UK. The FSA works with businesses to help them produce safe food, and with local authorities to enforce food safety regulations.


Bright lights that reflect off a display screen and impede a person’s sight, often causing excessive eyestrain and headaches.

Globally Harmonised System GHS – of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals.

This is a non-legally binding international agreement with the aim to have, worldwide, the same: Criteria for classifying chemicals according to their health, environmental and physical hazards; and Hazard communication requirements for labelling and safety data sheets.


A device that prohibits access to a hazardous part of a machine or equipment.

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act HSW/HSWA/HASWA

The primary legislation covering occupational health and safety in Great Britain. The Health and Safety Executive with Local Authorities (and other enforcing authorities) are responsible for enforcing the Act.

Hand Arm Vibration HAV

Mechanical vibration which is transmitted into the hands and arms during a work activity.


A situation or behaviour that has the potential to cause harm, injury, ill-health or damage to property and the environment.

Health and Safety Representatives

A person that has been appointed by trade unions to represent their colleagues regarding various issues of health and safety in the workplace.

Health Surveillance

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, such as hazardous chemicals.

Heat Exhaustion

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 substances or environments

Heavy Goods Vehicle HGV

A mechanically propelled road vehicle that is of a construction primarily suited for the carriage of goods or burden of any kind and designed or adapted to have a maximum weight exceeding 3,500 kilograms when in normal use and travelling whilst laden on a road.

Health and Safety Executive HSE

The national independent watchdog for work-related health, safety and illness. The HSE are an independent regulator and act in the public interest to reduce work-related death and serious injury across Great Britain’s workplaces.

Improvement Notice

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.

Incident Investigation

The process of gathering information regarding the causes of an incident, with the purpose of formulating control measures to prevent the incident from reoccurring.

Incident/Near Miss

A term for those events that have not resulted in significant harm but have the potential to cause an accident, injury or damage under different circumstances.


A non-corrosive substance which can cause inflammation on the body through contact.

Large Goods Vehicle LGV – or medium goods vehicle

The European Union (EU) term for any truck with a gross combination mass (GCM) of over 3,500 kilograms

Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations LOLER

These Regulations are often abbreviated to LOLER and place duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over lifting equipment. This includes all businesses and organisations whose employees use lifting equipment, whether owned by them or not. In most cases, lifting equipment is also work equipment so the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) will also apply (including inspection and maintenance).

Liquid Petroleum Gas LPG

Also referred to as simply propane or butane, are flammable mixtures of hydrocarbon gases used as fuel in heating appliances, cooking equipment, and vehicles.

Manual Handling Operations

Tasks that require a person to exert bodily force to transport a load by lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling or carrying an object.

Material Data Safety Sheet

A document that details information on potentially hazardous substances, along with guidance on how to handle them safely.

Method Statement

A document that details how a working process will be conducted in a safe manner, typically used for construction or installation procedures.

Mobile Elevated Work Platform MEWP

A general term used for scissor lifts, aerial platform or an extendable or articulating boom aerial device (either self-propelled or vehicle mounted) used for positioning personnel, their tools and necessary materials to elevated work locations.


The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss

An incurable condition caused by both acute and chronic exposure to a loud noise.


National Vocational Qualification.

Occupation Health

The relationship between a person’s health and the working activities that they undertake.

Occupational Illness

An illness that occurs in employees who have been exposed to hazards whilst at work.


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.

Preventive Maintenance

The regular maintenance of work equipment to reduce the risk of failure.

Prohibition Notice

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.

Principal Contractor PC

The contractor with control over the construction phase of a project involving more than one contractor. They are appointed in writing by the client (commercial or domestic) to plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety during this phase.

Personal Protective Equipment PPE

Specialised clothing or equipment worn by employees for protection against health and safety hazards. PPE is designed to protect many parts of the body, e.g. face, eyes, head, hands, feet and ears. PPE should always be considered as the ‘last resort’ in the protection of health and safety of workers.

Permit to Work PTW

This procedure is a specialised type of safe system of work which is normally associated with ensuring potentially very dangerous work, e.g. entry into process plant and other confined spaces, working at height, is carried out safely.

Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations PUWER

These regulations are often abbreviated to PUWER, place duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over work equipment. PUWER also places responsibilities on businesses and organisations whose employees use work equipment, whether owned by them or not.

Reasonably Practicable

When the degree of risk can be weighed up against the cost, in terms of time, money and difficulty of implementing control measures. If the cost outweighs the risk, then it is deemed inappropriate for an employer to implement the measures to prevent the risks.

Risk Assessment

An examination of the potential risks in the workplace, with the aim of assessing whether enough precautions have been put in place to prevent harm. A risk assessment focuses on the relationship between the worker, the work being carried out, the equipment being used and the conditions of the working environment.

Risk Management

The process of putting control measures into practice and monitoring the results, with the intention of reducing, or eliminating, the potential risks to health and safety.

Routes of Entry

Ways in which hazardous substances can enter the body, including inhalation, injection, ingestion and absorption.

Risk Assessment and Method Statements RAMS

Set out a formal safe system of work for tasks to be undertaken.

Residual Current Device RCD

A life-saving device which is designed to prevent persons from getting a fatal electric shock if they touch something live, such as a bare electrical wire. It can also provide some protection against electrical fires. RCDs offer a level of personal protection that ordinary fuses and circuit-breakers cannot provide.

Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations RIDDOR

Puts duties on employers, the self-employed and people in control of work premises (the responsible person) to report certain serious workplace accidents. This includes deaths, specified injuries, over seven-day incidents, occupational diseases, dangerous occurrences and gas incidents.

Respiratory Protective Equipment RPE

Protects against, e.g. dust, vapour, gas, oxygen deficient atmospheres. Examples include: disposable filtering face-piece or respirator, half or full-face respirations, air fed helmets, breathing apparatus etc.

Roll Over Protective Structure ROPS

A system or structure intended to protect equipment operators and motorists from injuries caused by vehicle overturns or rollovers.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order RRFSO

This law applies to England and Wales. It covers ‘general fire precautions’ and other fire safety duties which are needed to protect ‘relevant persons’ in case of fire in or around ‘most premises’.

Safety Management Advisory Services Ltd SMAS

An independent organisation undertaking health and safety pre-qualification assessment for a clients’ procurement of work.

Safety Schemes in Procurement SSIP

Not an assessment scheme, it is a membership or umbrella body for assessment schemes with the common aim of reducing both duplication and costs for both buyers and suppliers.


An assessment carried out by the individual to determine how safely they are working and fulfilling their health and safety duties.


Site Management Safety Training Scheme.


Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme.

Statute law

The formal, written law of a country or state.

Toolbox Talks TBT

Short discussions or presentations, often regarding health and safety, by supervisors to their employees. A TBT usually focuses on one specific topic and presents it in simple terms prior to a task or project.


Substances, usually poisonous, that cause irritation and have detrimental effects on health.


The conglomeration of equipment that an employee requires to fulfil their working practices. Regarding Display Screen Equipment, the workstation is likely to include a desk, a chair, a computer monitors and a keyboard.

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