PLAIN ENGLISH OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND
SAFETY (OHS) DICTIONARY
A risk is acceptable if it has
been reduced to a level that your
organization can tolerate given its occupational health and
safety (OH&S) policy and its legal obligations.
An audit is an evidence
gathering process. Audit evidence is used
to evaluate how well audit criteria are being met.
Audits must be
both objective and independent and the audit process
both systematic and documented.
Continual improvement is a recurring process that
an organizationís OH&S management system and
its overall OH&S performance. Continual
be consistent with the organizationís OH&S policy
be achieved by carrying out
internal audits, performing
management reviews, analyzing data, and
corrective and preventive actions.
Corrective actions are steps that are taken to
cause or causes of an existing nonconformity or
undesirable situation. Corrective actions address
problems. In general, the corrective action
be thought of as a problem solving process.
When information is placed on a medium
it becomes a document.
In this context, the term medium
usually refers to paper.
can also refer to electronic, magnetic, or optical
disks. A set of
documents is often referred to as documentation.
NOTE: Neither OHSAS 18001 nor OHSAS
18002 expects you to
write an OH&S Manual (per OHSAS 18001 and
18002 section 4.4.4).
A hazard is any situation,
substance, activity, event, or
environment that could potentially cause injury or ill
situations can cause injury or ill health.
Examples of potentially hazardous
slippery or uneven walking surfaces,
conditions, badly ventilated areas, high
locations, poorly lit areas, and confined
Hazardous substances can cause
injury or ill health.
Examples of potentially hazardous
corrosive and toxic chemicals, flammable and
gases and liquids,
ubstances, particulates, poisons,
bacteria, and viruses.
Hazardous activities can cause
injury or ill health. Examples
of potentially hazardous activities
include dangerous tasks,
unnatural movements and postures, heavy
work, interpersonal conflicts, bullying, and
Hazardous events can cause injury or
ill health. Examples
hazardous events include explosions,
implosions, collisions, vibrations, fires,
chemical reactions, electric
shocks, falling objects,
loud noises, structural
breakdowns, software failures,
equipment malfunctions, and unscheduled
Hazard identification is a process that involves
an OH&S hazard exists and then describing its
Ill health is an adverse physical or mental
condition. In order to
qualify as an occupational health and safety problem, an
physical or mental condition must be identifiable and be
or aggravated by a work activity or a work related
An incident is a work related
event during which:
injury, ill health,
or fatality actually occurs, or
injury, ill health,
or fatality could have occurred.
An accident is a type of
incident. It is a work-related event
during which injury, ill health, or fatality actually
It is a type of incident (see 1,
A close call, near miss, near hit,
or dangerous occurrence
is also a type of incident. It is a
work-related event during
which injury, ill health, or fatality could have
but didnít actually occur (see 2, above).
An interested party is a
person or group that has a stake in the
OH&S performance of an organization. Interested
be directly affected by the organizationís OH&S
or actively concerned about it. They come from both
and outside of the workplace.
Nonconformity is the non fulfillment of a
requirement or a deviation
from a standard. When an organization fails to meet
deviates from a standard, a nonconformity exists.
deviation from the OHSAS 18001 standard is a nonconformity.
When OHSAS 18001 uses the term
occupational health and
safety, it refers to all of the factors and
affect health and safety in the
could affect health and safety in
Occupational health and safety (OH&S) factors
(permanent and temporary), contractors, visitors, and anyone
else who is in the workplace.
An occupational health and safety
management system (OHSMS)
is used to establish an OH&S policy and to
manage OH&S risks. An
organizationís OHSMS is one part of a larger management
A management system, including
an OHSMS, is a network of
These elements include responsibilities,
authorities, relationships, functions, activities,
procedures, and resources. A
management system uses these
elements to establish
policies, plans, programs, and objectives
and to develop ways of implementing these policies,
programs, and achieving these objectives.
OH&S objectives are OH&S performance goals
set for themselves and wish to achieve. Your
objectives should be both measurable and consistent with its
is all about results. Itís all about how well
their OH&S risks and the results they actually
achieve. In order to be able to determine how well OH&S
being managed, OH&S performance must be
measurable. You can
measure your organizationís OH&S performance by
effectiveness of your controls and by comparing your
and achievements against your OH&S policy, objectives,
other suitable OH&S performance requirements.
An organizationís OH&S policy
statement expresses a commitment
to the implementation and ongoing maintenance of its OHSMS
the improvement of its overall OH&S performance. Your OH&S
should emphasize the need to prevent
injury and ill
with all legal and nonlegal requirements, and be appropriate
nature and scale of
the OH&S risks
that your organization must
deal with. In general, an OH&S policy
should be used to drive the
implementation and maintenance of the OHSMS, to develop
OH&S objectives, and to encourage action.
An organization is a company,
corporation, enterprise, firm,
institution, or authority. Organizations can be
either incorporated or
unincorporated, and can be either privately or publicly
owned. It can
also be a single operating unit or part of a larger entity.
operating unit or part of a larger entity must have its own
and administration in order to count as an organization.
Preventive actions are steps that are taken to
remove the causes of
potential nonconformities or other undesirable
situations that have
not yet occurred. Preventive actions address potential
In general, the preventive action process can be
thought of as a
risk analysis process.
A procedure is a specified way of carrying
out an activity
or a process. Procedures may or may not be
A documented procedure describes
and controls a logically distinct
process or activity, including the associated inputs and
Documented procedures can be very general or very detailed,
anywhere in between. While a general procedure could
form of a simple flow diagram, a detailed procedure
a one page form or it could be several pages of
A detailed documented procedure
defines and controls the work that
should be done, and explains how it should be done, who
it, and under what circumstances. In addition, it often
authority and what responsibility has been allocated, which
and materials should be used, and which documents and
must be used to carry out the work.
A record is a document that
shows what kinds of activities are
being performed or what kind of results are being achieved.
It always documents and provides evidence about
Risk combines three elements: it starts with a potential
and then combines its probability
with its potential severity.
In the context of OH&S, the concept of risk
asks two future
What is the probability
that a particular hazardous
event or exposure will actually occur in the future?
would the impact on health and safety be
if the hazardous event or exposure actually occurred?
A high risk hazardous event or exposure
would have both a
high probability of occurring and a severe impact on
it actually occurred. A high risk event or exposure is
is likely to cause severe injury or ill health.
risk assessment considers the
effectiveness of existing
and then evaluates the probability
potential severity of specific hazardous events and
On the basis of such an assessment, organizations
whether or not the risk is acceptable.
A workplace is a physical
location where an organizationís work is
performed. A physical location is an organizationís
if it is under its control. However, control may extend
to work that
is performed while traveling, working at home, or at a
workplace. Regardless of where work is performed,
must manage their OH&S risks.