OHSAS 18001 Plain English Definitions

Acceptable Risk - Audit - Continual Improvement - Corrective Action
Document - Hazard - Hazard Identification - Ill Health - Incident - Interested Party
Nonconformity - Occupational Health & Safety - Occupational Health & Safety System
Occupational Health & Safety Objective - Occupational Health & Safety Performance
Occupational Health & Safety Policy - Organization - Preventive Action
Procedure - Record - Risk - Risk Assessment -
Workplace

PLAIN ENGLISH OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY DICTIONARY

3.1 Acceptable Risk

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.

3.2 Audit

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 must be
both systematic and documented.

3.3 Continual Improvement

Continual improvement is a recurring process that enhances
an organizationís OH&S management system and improves
its overall OH&S performance. Continual improvements must
be consistent with the organizationís OH&S policy and can
be achieved by carrying out internal audits, performing
management reviews, analyzing data, and implementing
corrective and preventive actions.

3.4 Corrective Action

Corrective actions are steps that are taken to remove the
cause or causes of an existing nonconformity or other
undesirable situation. Corrective actions address actual
problems. In general, the corrective action process can
be thought of as a problem solving process.

3.5 Document

When information is placed on a medium it becomes a document.
In this context, the term medium usually refers to paper. But it
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).

3.6 Hazard

A hazard is any situation, substance, activity, event, or
environment that could potentially cause injury or ill health.
More precisely:

ē  Hazardous situations can cause injury or ill health.
   Examples of potentially hazardous situations include
   slippery or uneven walking surfaces, cramped working
   conditions, badly ventilated areas, high altitudes, noisy
   locations, poorly lit areas, and confined spaces.

ē  Hazardous substances can cause injury or ill health.
   Examples of potentially hazardous substances include
   corrosive and toxic chemicals, flammable and explosive
   materials, dangerous gases and liquids, radioactive
   ubstances, particulates, poisons, bacteria, and viruses.

ē  Hazardous activities can cause injury or ill health. Examples
   of potentially hazardous activities include dangerous tasks,
   unnatural movements and postures, heavy lifting, repetitive
   work, interpersonal conflicts, bullying, and intimidation.

ē  Hazardous events can cause injury or ill health. Examples
   of potentially hazardous events include explosions,
   implosions, collisions, vibrations, fires, leaks, releases,
   chemical reactions, electric shocks, falling objects,
   loud noises, structural breakdowns, software failures,
   equipment malfunctions, and unscheduled shutdowns.

3.7 Hazard Identification

Hazard identification is a process that involves recognizing that
an OH&S hazard exists and then describing its characteristics.

3.8 Ill Health

Ill health is an adverse physical or mental condition. In order to
qualify as an occupational health and safety problem, an adverse
physical or mental condition must be identifiable and be caused
or aggravated by a work activity or a work related situation.

3.9 Incident

An incident is a work related event during which:

  1. injury, ill health, or fatality actually occurs, or

  2. 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 occurs.
It is a type of incident (see 1, above).

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 occurred,
but didnít actually occur (see 2, above).

3.10 Interested Party

An interested party is a person or group that has a stake in the
OH&S performance of an organization. Interested parties may
be directly affected by the organizationís OH&S performance
or actively concerned about it. They come from both inside
and outside of the workplace.

3.11 Nonconformity

Nonconformity is the non fulfillment of a requirement or a deviation
from a standard. When an organization fails to meet requirements or
deviates from a standard, a nonconformity exists. Accordingly, any
deviation from the OHSAS 18001 standard is a nonconformity.

3.12 Occupational Health & Safety

When OHSAS 18001 uses the term occupational health and
safety
, it refers to all of the factors and conditions that:

  1. affect health and safety in the workplace, or

  2. could affect health and safety in the workplace.

Occupational health and safety (OH&S) factors affect employees
(permanent and temporary), contractors, visitors, and anyone
else who is in the workplace.

3.13 Occupational Health & Safety Management System

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 system.

A management system, including an OHSMS, is a network of
interrelated elements. These elements include responsibilities,
authorities, relationships, functions, activities, processes, practices,
procedures, and resources. A management system uses these
elements to establish policies, plans, programs, and objectives
and to develop ways of implementing these policies, plans, and
programs, and achieving these objectives.

3.14 Occupational Health & Safety Objective

OH&S objectives are OH&S performance goals that organizations
set for themselves and wish to achieve. Your organizationís OH&S
objectives should be both measurable and consistent with its
OH&S policy.

3.15 Occupational Health & Safety Performance

OH&S performance is all about results. Itís all about how well
organizations manage their OH&S risks and the results they actually
achieve. In order to be able to determine how well OH&S risks are
being managed, OH&S performance must be measurable. You can
measure your organizationís OH&S performance by measuring the
effectiveness of your controls and by comparing your OH&S results
and achievements against your OH&S policy, objectives, or any
other suitable OH&S performance requirements.

3.16 Occupational Health & Safety Policy

An organizationís OH&S policy statement expresses a commitment
to the implementation and ongoing maintenance of its OHSMS and
the improvement of its overall OH&S performance. Your OH&S policy
should emphasize the need to prevent injury and ill health, comply
with all legal and nonlegal requirements, and be appropriate to the
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.

3.17 Organization

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. However, an
operating unit or part of a larger entity must have its own functions
and administration in order to count as an organization.

3.18 Preventive Action

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 problems.
In general, the preventive action process can be thought of as a
risk analysis process.

3.19 Procedure

A procedure is a specified way of carrying out an activity
or a process. Procedures may or may not be documented.

A documented procedure describes and controls a logically distinct
process or activity, including the associated inputs and outputs.
Documented procedures can be very general or very detailed, or
anywhere in between. While a general procedure could take the
form of a simple flow diagram, a detailed procedure could be
a one page form or it could be several pages of text.

A detailed documented procedure defines and controls the work that
should be done, and explains how it should be done, who should do
it, and under what circumstances. In addition, it often explains what
authority and what responsibility has been allocated, which supplies
and materials should be used, and which documents and records
must be used to carry out the work.

3.20 Record

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 the past.

3.21 Risk

Risk combines three elements: it starts with a potential event,
and then combines its probability with its potential severity.
In the context of OH&S, the concept of risk asks two future
oriented questions:

  1. What is the probability that a particular hazardous
    event or exposure will actually occur in the future?

  2. How severe 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 OH&S if
it actually occurred. A high risk event or exposure is one that
is likely to cause severe injury or ill health.

3.22 Risk Assessment

A risk assessment considers the effectiveness of existing
OH&S controls and then evaluates the probability and the
potential severity of specific hazardous events and exposures.
On the basis of such an assessment, organizations decide
whether or not the risk is acceptable.

3.23 Workplace

A workplace is a physical location where an organizationís work is
performed. A physical location is an organizationís workplace only
if it is under its control. However, control may extend to work that
is performed while traveling, working at home, or at a customerís
workplace. Regardless of where work is performed, organizations
must manage their OH&S risks.


MORE OHSAS 18001 PAGES

Introduction to OHSAS 18001 Standard

OHSAS 18001 Standard Translated into Plain English

Occupational Health and Safety System Development Plan

Occupational Health and Safety Gap Analysis Tool

Occupational Health and Safety Audit Program


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Updated on November 29, 2013. First published on January 30, 2008.

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