Alphabet soup: A guide to health and safety jargon and acronyms

By Craig Carlyle, director at Maintenance Transformations

Health and safety systems bring a confusing array of jargon and three-letter acronyms. It can feel overwhelming but with a bit of understanding, you’ll be an expert in no time.

A key component of a HSE-MS (Health and Safety Management System) for a PCBU (person conducting a business or undertaking) is to describe how a job, process, or procedure is performed safely and ensure that this information is conveyed to the workers.

Risk Analysis

The three most common processes used all apply the same risk assessment methodology, intent, and purpose:

  • JSA – Job Safety Analysis: JSA’s help reduce risks and hazards by analysing the step-by-step processes of a job and identifying risks.
  • JHA – Job Hazard Analysis: JHA’s focus on specific job tasks and identifies potential hazards, focussing on the relationship between the worker, task, equipment, and work environment.
  • JSEA – Job Safety and Environmental Assessment: This assessment breaks down a process or task and identifies environmental risks.

Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS)

A Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) details high-risk work activities on a site with known hazards. It aims to document dangerous activity conducted regularly and details out safety measures. There are four components:

  • The details of the work;
  • The health and safety hazards;
  • The control measures to be implemented;
  • How the control measures will be actioned.

Operations Planning

Once you’ve identified risks and hazards you need to develop procedures for employees to follow. Let’s take a look at the main acronyms:

LTI: Lost Time Injury. Loss of productive work time due to an injury sustained by an employee.

SWL: Safe Working Load. The maximum safe load that a lifting machine or device can lower, suspend, or lift safely.

SSSP: Site Specific Safety Plan

SOP: Safe Operational Plan

PEL: Permissible Exposure Limit. The exposure limit of a worker to chemical substances or physical agents like loud noise.

RIDDOR: Reporting of Injuries, Disease, and Dangerous Occurrences.

PPE: Personal Protective Equipment.

SSoW: Safe System of Work. A systematic approach to ensuring hazards or risks are controlled.

FEE: Fire Extinguisher Equipment

Even though the Health and Safety at Work Act aims to make our health and safety rules and regulations straightforward, not every business owner has the time and expertise to make sure their workplace is 100% compliant with health and safety guidelines. Too many businesses risk injury and prosecution from poor health and safety management. These risks are easily avoided by knowing what you’re working with, applying practical man management, and ensuring you have the documentation up to date.

Craig Carlyle is director at Maintenance Transformations. His expertise lies in the practical application of maintenance and health and safety management systems in the workplace. He is also a life member of the Maintenance Engineering Society of NZ.

The information and opinions within this column are not necessarily the views or opinions of Xpress Engineer NZ, NZ Engineering News or the parent company, Hayley Media.