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HSE Terminology for Non HSE staff

Blog 28 terminology

Health and Safety wording is Confusing !

Health and safety is a discipline full of anachronisms and often confusing terminology. Just the subject alone is referred to by multiple names meaning generally the same thing; HSE, EHS, OSH, SHE, OHSE, OHS etc.

At Corporate OHS, our HSE Consultants recently completed a large scale, complex health and safety consultancy project which included multiple stakeholders. Many of whom were non health and safety personnel. In order to facilitate understanding Corporate OHS created a standard glossary of health and safety terminology and definitions. Some of which are industry standard definitions, and some of which are our own definitions. Which may assist non HSE personnel in understanding common terms.

I share this glossary with you below:

Glossary of Terms

ALARP: As low as reasonably practicable


Audit: An evaluation of a person, system, process, enterprise, project or product. A systematic and independent examination of data, statements, records, operations and performances of an enterprise for a stated purpose


Competent Person: Someone who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities that allow them to provide help properly. The level of competence required will depend on the complexity of the situation and the particular need


Confined Space: Limited or restricted means for entry or exit not designed for continuous occupancy. Confined spaces include, but are not limited to; tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, equipment housings, ductwork, pipelines, etc.


Dangerous Occurrence: An unplanned event, sequence of events or actions that either resulted in or could have resulted in an adverse effect (loss)


Emergency Plan: Specifies systematic instructions and procedures that must be followed before and after the time of an anticipated emergency event


Emergency Preparedness: The development and maintenance of agreed procedures to prevent, reduce, control, mitigate and take other actions in the event of an emergency


Ergonomics: The science of fitting the work environment and / or equipment to employees, so that they reduce or prevent stress, and eliminate potential ill health


Evacuation Plan: A diagram showing the safest emergency exit routes from a building and clearly indicating the places of the emergency equipment including firefighting and first aid equipment


First aid facilities: Include first aid box, first aid equipment, first aid room/medical room



Anything that has the potential to cause harm or loss (injury, disease, ill-health, property damage etc.)


Hazard Identification: The process of recognising that a hazard exists and including the hazard in the risk assessment process


HSE Committee: A group represented by management, HSE Specialist and employees within a workplace who meet regularly to deal with HSE issues


HSE Performance: Measurable results of an entity’s management of its HSE risks


Incident: An unplanned event, sequence of events or actions that either resulted or could have resulted in an adverse effect (loss)


Inspection: Careful examination of work performed or equipment in accordance with applicable HSE standards


Lost Time Incidents: Any absence from work due to occupational incidents causing injuries or ill health that result in employees being off work or incapacitated


Manual Handling: Transporting or supporting a load by hand or bodily force. It includes lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving loads


MS (Method Statements): A health and safety document usually used for high-risk work. It describes the steps (method) that workers must take to carry out a particular job safely


Near Miss:


An incident not causing harm or loss but had the potential to do so
Occupational Diseases: A disease that is due to a factor in a person’s work


Occupational Illness: An acute or chronic disorder associated with or caused by exposure to workplace factors


Occupational Injury: A personal injury resulting from an occupational incident


Permit to Work: A formal recorded process used to control work activities that have been identified as potentially hazardous


PPE (Personal Protective Equipment): Any device, appliance or equipment designed to be worn or used by an individual for protection against hazards



The combination of likelihood of the hazard causing the loss and the severity of that loss (consequences)


Risk Assessment: Systematic identification of workplace hazards and evaluation of the risks associated. This process takes existing control measures into account and identifies and recommends further control measures where required


Risk Management: The forecasting and evaluation of risks together with the identification of procedures to avoid or minimise their impact


Risk Matrix: Used during risk assessment to define the level of risk by considering the category of probability or likelihood against the category of consequence severity


Risk Register: A register that records all relevant details of risks identified within an entity


Safe System of Work: A formal procedure that results from systematic analyzing of a task in order to identify all the hazards. It defines safe methods to ensure that hazards are eliminated or risks reduced


Working at Height: Workplace activity conducted, at, above or below ground level, where there is a risk of an employee being injured falling from any height




Corporate OHS are UAE based Health and Safety Consultancy whose HSE Consultants offer expert resources and superior performance to give you greater results.

We specialize in creating workable, user friendly HSE systems aligned to business activities and operations. Our range of health and safety consultancy services includes;

  • Health, safety and fire risk assessments
  • Hazard identification and control measures
  • HSE management system development, implementation and review
  • Including locally compliant systems such as OSHAD
  • And/or accredited systems such as ISO 45001, ISO 14001 and ISO 9001
  • HSE legal compliance reviews and audit
  • Accident investigations
  • Business continuity and crisis management
  • Long term or project based HSE staff outsourcing.

In addition to project work and to aid companies in need of HSE resource but without a full time headcount; Corporate OHS also offers the option of a flexible contract and a monthly retainer, giving  access to HSE services without the burden of permanent cost. For enquiries or to find out more about our services, please visit our website or send an email to

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