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Health and Safety Glossary

When learning about health and safety you might come across words you haven’t seen before or find difficult to understand.

It is good to familiarise yourself with these health and safety keywords, so we have made it simple. The glossary is an essential reference guide to developing your understanding of these keywords.

Health and Safety Glossary


Acid – A chemical substance with a PH of less than 7, which can corrode or dissolve other materials.

Accident – An unplanned and unexpected event that results in harm, injury, or damage.

ACOP – This means Approved Codes of Practice, which are practical guidance documents that provide information on how to comply with health and safety laws.

Acute Exposure – Short-term exposure to a chemical that results in harmful effects to health.

Allergen – A substance that can cause an allergic reaction in a person.

Appointed Person – A person who is selected based on their knowledge or experience to be in charge of a particular task or duty.

Asbestos – A group of minerals used in the past as fire-resistant insulation, but inhaling their fibres can cause fatal diseases.

Audit – An official examination or inspection of financial or other data by a professional or independent body.


Code of Practice – A set of guidelines or rules that provide practical guidance on how to comply with a particular law or regulation.

Competent Person – A person with the necessary knowledge, training and experience to carry out a specific task or duty.

Confined Space – A space with limited entry and exit points that are not designed for continuous occupancy and can cause a risk to health and safety.

Corrosive – A substance that can cause damage or destruction to other materials or living tissue.

COSHH – Control of Substances Hazardous to Health is a set of regulations that require employers to control exposure to hazardous substances to protect employees’ health.


Display Screen Equipment – Electronic equipment that has a screen or visual display and is used for work purposes.


Emergency Plan – A plan that outlines the actions to be taken in case of an emergency or unexpected event.


Fires – A combustion that can cause significant damage, injury or loss of life. Created by the combination of oxygen, heat and fuel.

Flammable Liquid – A liquid that can catch fire easily.

Flammable Gas – A gas that can ignite and cause fire or explosion.


Hazard – A potential source of harm or adverse effects on health or safety.

Health and Safety Executive – The UK government agency responsible for enforcing health and safety legislation and regulations.


IOSH – The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health is a professional membership organisation that promotes health and safety in the workplace.

Incident – An event or occurrence that results in harm, injury, or damage.


Manual Handling – The physical lifting, carrying, pushing, or pulling of objects or people.

Material Data Safety Sheet – A document that provides information on the safe handling and use of hazardous substances.

Method Statement – A written description of the process or method used to carry out a particular task or activity.


NEBOSH – The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health is an independent organisation that provides qualifications and training in health and safety.

NVQ – National Vocational Qualification is a work-based qualification that assesses an individual’s knowledge, skills, and competence in a particular area of work.


Occupational Health – A field that focuses on the health and well-being of employees in the workplace.

Occupational Illness – A disease or medical condition caused by exposure to hazards or risks in the workplace.


Permit to Work – A document that authorizes a person to carry out a particular task or activity in a controlled or hazardous environment.

Policy – A set of principles, guidelines, or rules that provide direction and guidance for decision-making and action.

PPE – In the workplace, Personal Protective Equipment minimises exposure to hazards or risks


RPE – Respiratory Protective Equipment is equipment worn to protect the wearer from inhaling hazardous substances or particles.

Reasonably Practicable – A term used in health and safety law to describe the level of effort required to mitigate risk, taking into account the likelihood and severity of harm.

Regulations – Rules or laws made by a government or other authority.

We hope you find this health and safety glossary useful and encourage you to explore our range of Health and Safety Courses to help develop your knowledge and skills further.

If you’re looking for more information on how you can apply health and safety practices to your workplace, take a look at our blog ‘How To Improve Workplace Health and Safety.’

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