Safety Matters – Key Health and Safety Terms You Must Know
The study of health and safety covers a wide range of subject areas from chemistry, physics and biology to engineering, psychology, sociology and law. Whereas some of the topics are very easy to understand, some are more technical and requires specialist knowledge. So you can see it’s a broad subject.
Application of standard health and safety at work places, markets or offices face a lot of barriers. Due to its complex nature borne out of competing and conflicting demands, successful practice of health and safety relies on perfect behaviour of individuals to always behave in the ideal way.
Having said that, there are some key terms you must understand. These terms a very basic as it forms the foundation for your understanding of the whole concept of health and safety. Here are a few:
Safety – this means there’s no risk of serious personal injury. For example, walking under a load suspended by crane can result in loss of life. So you must avoid any such act.
Health – this means disease is not present. For example, exposing oneself to extreme stress can result in nervous breakdown. One must simply avoid practices the bring health implications.
Welfare – accessibility to basic social amenities. For example, toilet facility.
Environmental Protection – conscious efforts to prevent damage to the air, land, water and other living creatures in the wider environment. For example exhaust gases create toxic atmosphere. Avoid engaging in acts that endanger the environment.
Accident – refers to anything that is not planned for or any unwanted event that results in injury, damage or loss. For example two vehicles colliding with each other.
Risk – the likelihood of a harm being caused and the severity of the attendant injury, damage or loss that might occur. For example, being knocked down by moving vehicle.
Hazard – unsafe acts (people) or unsafe condition (machines, material, and work place) that has the potential to cause harm. For example storing items at exit point, and slippery floors.
Evacuation – moving people safely away from impending hazard.
Rescue – saving people trapped in a hazard.
Near Miss – any unwanted event that pose threat of injury, damage or loss but DID NOT, in fact DO SO. For example when you are nearly hit by vehicle.
Dangerous Occurrence – a specified event that has to be reported to the relevant authority by statute law.
Health and Safety Culture – the product of individual and group values, attitudes, perceptions, competencies and patterns of behaviour that determines the commitment to, and the style and proficiency of organisation’s health and safety management.
Better understanding of these terms help you appreciate the overall concept and scope of health and safety. We are going to meet them frequently in our further discussions. What is most important is to understand their meanings and not necessarily memorise them.