Health and Safety Glossary

Accident: this is an unplanned, undesired event, which leads to damage of property/equipment, and/or injury or death. Notice that it is unplanned. If it was a planned event then it is not an accident, but rather a crime.

Direct Costs of An Accident: this are costs that are evident, that affect the company. Compared to indirect costs they are relatively low. It can include: sick pay, overtime for replacement workers, fines, first aid treatments, repairs to equipment, damaged products, etc.

Hazard: Something, whether it be an object, a person, a situation, or an act, that has the potential to cause harm. Notice the word potential. We use this word because a hazard may not cause any harm at all. A hazard can be things like chemicals, electricity, noise, unsafe acts from people, or objects like ladders.

Health: The absence of disease.

Risk: The likelihood, or the probability, that a hazard will actually lead to an accident. For example, a ladder is a hazard. Using the ladder to change a light bulb will increase the risk (or likelihood) of an accident occurring. If the ladder is properly secured and someone is holding the ladder then the risk is lower. If the ladder is not secured and it has loose steps then the risk is much higher. The objective is to not necessarily avoid all hazards, but to rather to a proper assessment to identify the risks, and find ways to reduce risks that are produced from hazards.

Another important consideration is the severity of the potential accident. For example, handling paper is a hazard that poses the risk of paper cuts. However, the severity is extremely minor. Whereas window washing (of a sky rise building) is a hazard, but one of lower risk because of strict safety precautions. However, the severity of an accident is much higher than that of paper cuts.

Near-miss: this is very similar to an accident, except there is no damage to property/equipment, and no one is injured. Near-misses should serve us warnings that lead to improved safety precautions, but most people just brush them off.

Dangerous Occurrence: This is an event that leads to damage to property but no injuries or deaths. For example, a load falling from a crane, or an explosion when a factory is empty. Dangerous occurrences need to be reported to the proper authorities.

Health and Safety Policy: a detailed policy, written and signed by management, that shows commitment to the workers to improve and maintain safety standards. In many jurisdictions it is a legal requirement. Basically, it involves three areas; a general statement of intent; identifying the roles and responsibilities of all levels of management, an explanation of the arrangements — how things will be done.

Indirect Costs of An Accidents: these are costs which are not so obvious, but they tend to be much higher than direct costs. They include things like: report writing, loss productivity in order to investigate, lower morale, costs to increase safety, costs of temporary workers, damage to good will of organization, etc.

Risk Assessment: a systematic method of assessing risks in a workplace, then deciding on preventive measures and implementing them. A risk assessment includes five basic steps:

  1. Identify the hazards.
  2. Identify who might be harmed.
  3. Decide on what to do to reduce the risks.
  4. Record the findings then implement them.
  5. Review as needed.

Safety: This is defined as the absence of risk of injuries.

Welfare: Access to facilities at the workplace e.g. clean eating area, washing areas.

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