Health and Safety Glossary

Health and Safety GlossaryWe have put together a collection of some of the key words and terms in the world of health and safety, and provided simple definitions to accompany them.

Abrasive Wheels

A wheel consisting of abrasive particles bonded together with various substances. Common types include portable grinders (disc cutters, angle grinders etc.), bench grinders and pedestal grinders (similar to bench grinders but are mounted on a pedestal).


A separate, identifiable, unintended incident at work that causes physical injury including non-consensual violence.

Approved Code of Practice (ACoP)

Provide practical advice on how to comply with the law, and have a special legal status.  If you are prosecuted for breach of health and safety law, and it is proved that you did not follow the relevant provisions of the Code, you will need to show that you have complied with the law in some other way or a court will find you at fault.


A naturally occurring, mined mineral product which was used in many products including building materials and textiles. Is now banned in the UK as exposure to Asbestos can cause serious damage to the lungs, which can be fatal.


Stands for the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015. The main set of regulations for managing the health, safety and welfare of construction projects.

Competent Person

Someone who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge in order to perform a task safely.


Stands for the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 2015. The purpose of COMAH is to prevent major accidents involving dangerous substances and limit the consequences to people and the environment of any accidents which do occur.

Safety Glossary

Confined Space

Any space which, by virtue of its enclosed nature, presents a reasonably foreseeable specified risk.


Stands for the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. Requires employers to control substances that are hazardous to health.

Display Screen Equipment (DSE)

Includes devices or equipment that have an alphanumeric (letters and numbers) or graphic (pictures) display screen. This includes computers, laptops, mobile phones and tablets.


The study of the interface between the person, the equipment and the working environment.

Hand-Arm Vibration

Vibration which is transmitted into a worker’s hands and arms when using vibrating tools and machinery.


Anything with the potential to cause harm. Common examples in the workplace include fire, manual handling and asbestos.

Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

The primary piece of legislation covering occupational health and safety in Great Britain.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. They aim to prevent work-related death, injury and ill-health.


Stands for the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health. They are the world’s largest health and safety membership body.


Refers to a group of bacteria which are common to natural water sources such as lakes and rivers. Can multiply to harmful levels when presented with the right conditions.


Stands for The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. Places duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over lifting equipment.

Health and Safety Glossary

Lone Working

Someone who works by themselves without close or direct supervision.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Make more explicit what employers are required to do to manage health and safety under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Manual Handling

Any transporting or supporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving) by hand or bodily force.


Stands for mobile elevated work platforms. Provides a secure platform for work at height activities.

Musculoskeletal Disorders

Job-related injuries and disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage and spinal discs.

Near Miss

An event not causing harm, but has the potential to cause injury or ill-health.


Stands for the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health. They are an independent examination board that provide a wide range of qualifications designed to train people in health, safety and environmental management.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Equipment that protects the user against health and safety risks at work. Includes items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses.

Health and Safety Glossary


An abbreviation of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. Places duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over work equipment.

Reasonably Practicable

Provides a legal parameter which allows a balance to be struck between the level of risk against the cost and time taken in applying appropriate controls.


Stands for the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013.


The likelihood of a hazard causing harm or damage, and the severity of harm / damage that could occur.

Risk Assessment

An examination of a workplace or activity which identifies what might cause harm to people in order to determine whether reasonable steps are being taken to prevent such harm occurring.

Work at Height

Work in any place where, if there were no precautions in place, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury.

Workplace Exposure Limit

Legal limits set on the amounts of many of the substances that can be present in workplace air.

Work-related Upper Limb Disorders

Medical conditions that can affect the neck, shoulders, arms, elbows, wrists, hands and fingers. Caused be repetitive movements.