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Health & Safety Management

Ensure your health & safety policy says what it means, and is consistently understood with the right terminology. 

Understand the fundamental vocabulary with our glossary of health & safety management systems terms and definitions. If you have any questions or would like a definition added, please let us know.


Terms related to OHSAS 18001

OHSAS 18001 is the most widely adopted occupational health and safety management systems standard – it is due to be superseded by ISO 45001 in 2016/17. The terms and definitions applicable to OHSAS 18001 include:

  • Acceptable risk. The acceptable risk is one that has been reduced to a level that can be tolerated in accordance with an organization’s OH&S policy and its legal responsibilities.

  • Accident. This defines an unwanted case that results in a fatality, injury, disease or other loss.

  • Harmful. This term refers to a potential resource or situation that could lead to injuries, illness or damage of goods in the workplace.

  • Hazard. This term denotes any situation, substance, activity, or event that has the potential to cause ill health or injury. Examples include cramped working conditions, badly ventilated areas, toxic chemicals, dangerous gases, repetitive work, intimidation and bullying, explosions and equipment malfunctions.

  • Incident. An incident identifies a work-related event that could have caused injury, ill health or death.

  • Hazard identification. This process involves identifying that a hazard exists and then creating a description of its characteristics.

  • Ill health. This refers to an adverse physical or mental condition, which is identifiable and can be the result of or aggravated by a work activity or work-related situation.

  • Occupational health & safety objective. These are the performance goals that an organization establishes and plans to achieve. These objectives must be measurable and consistent with the organization’s OH&S policy.

  • Occupational health & safety performance. These are measurable controls that show how effectively an organization manages their OH&S risks and the results they achieved, compared to its OH&S policy, objectives or any other appropriate OH&S performance requirements.

  • Occupational health & safety policy. This is a statement of the organization’s commitment to the implementation of and on-going maintenance of its OHSMS as well as the improvement of its overall OH&S performance. Management should use the policy to demonstrate their commitment, to guide and fuel the implementation and maintenance of the OHSMS, to develop OH&S goals and to inspire action.

  • Workplace. Describes a physical location, under the organization’s control, where employees, contractors and others perform the organization’s work. To manage their OH&S risks effectively, companies may extend their controls to include traveling, working at home or working at a customer’s location.

Terms related to ISO 45001 – to be expanded soon…

  • ISO 45001. The world’s first international standard for occupational health and safety, currently in draft format and expected for release between October 2016 and January 2017. This standard will supersede OHSAS 18001 and organizations with OHSAS 18001 certification will be given three years to meet ISO 45001 requirements following its publication. For details on the transition visit www.nqa.com/iso45001