Defined Health and Safety Terms

A - F


An unintended incident which resulted, or could have resulted in, the injury or exposure to a substance or contagious disease, of one or more persons.​


Any development, implementation, review, and enforcement of the Department’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) procedures.​

Administrative control:​

A system of work, or a work procedure, that is designed to eliminate or reduce the risk but does not include; a physical control or use of Personal Protective equipment​ (e.g. training, installation of signage and warning labels)

Adverse driving conditions:​

Unfavourable circumstances that reduce optimum driving conditions e.g. poor visibility, adverse weather, road conditions, traffic etc.

Agency of injury/disease:​

The object, substance, or circumstance directly involved in the cause of the injury or disease. For example: falling from playground equipment and injuring a wrist, slipping on a wet floor and spraining an ankle.

Application of high force:​

A circumstance in which a person would be required to exert a high level of strength and effort to achieve the desired outcome.


Fibrous forms of mineral silicates belonging to the serpentine and amphibole groups of rock-forming minerals.

​Asbestos Coordinator:

A person who is responsible for the safe management of asbestos and is the main contact for asbestos-related issues in the school. 

Atmospheric monitoring:​

Means a procedure whereby air is sampled within the breathing zone of a person to evaluate the person's exposure to airborne contaminants.

Audiometric test:​

The measurement of the range and sensitivity of a person's sense of hearing by means of a specialised electro-acoustic instrument (audiometer)

Authorised Representative of Registered Employee Organisations (ARREO’s):​

Permanent employees of a registered employee organisation e.g. a union.​


​Bullying is defined as repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards or from an employee or group of employees that creates a risk to health and safety.

​Capital works:​

​Capital works projects are announced by the Government through annual State Budgets. Following the announcement of Government funding, the Department works closely with schools to progress the planning and successful delivery of capital projects within the available funding. There are two types of capital works; major which is in excess of $100,000 and minor which is costing less than $100,000.
The school can determine the level of involvement it would like in the governance of your capital project:
1. the school to lead the project
2. to work in partnership with the Department
3. the Department to lead the project.

Chemical Waste:​

Any waste generated from the use of chemicals that has the potential to pose a chemical threat to health, safety and/or the environment.​

​Clinical Waste:

​Substances arising from the medical treatment of a person/s.  As such, this may pose a risk to people exposed to the waste e.g. blood, tissue, sharps, clean up items etc.

Competent person:​

A person who has acquired through training or qualification the knowledge and skills appropriate to the nature of the work to be undertaken.​


​Meeting requirements of applicable legislation, regulations, industry standards, guidelines, codes of conduct, code of ethics and organisational policies.​

​​Confined Space:

​Defined as:

  • An enclosed or partially enclosed space with restricted entry and exit

  • an oxygen concentration outside the safe oxygen range

  • a concentration of airborne contaminants that may cause impairement, loss of consciousness, or asphyxiation.

  • a concentration of flammable airborne contaminant that may cause injury from fire or explosion

  • engulfment in any stored substances

Examples include: storage tanks, silos, ducts, chimney, underground sewer, or well or any shaft or trench

​​Confined Space Entry Permit:

​A Confined Space Entry Permit is to be issued by the Workplace Manager. The Permit provides details of a formal check to ensure all elements of a safe system of work are in place before persons are permitted to enter the confine space


Contractors including any service providers /individuals who are not direct employees of the Department who are providing services/works in relation to maintenance and repair work and other contracted services engaged by schools such as cooking demonstrations, sports coaching and other activities including workshops and incursions.​

​Dangerous Goods (DG):

​Substances (including mixtures and solutions) that may present an immediate safety hazard such as fire, explosion or toxic cloud emission. Dangerous goods are designated into nine different classes under the Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG7 Code) according to their immediate physical or chemical effect. Some of these classes are further subdivided into divisions. They are easily recognisable by the diamond shaped sign displayed on the substance label.


​The process whereby plant and equipment is safely withdrawn from service and could involve a staged process of adjustments, tests, and inspections.

Deputy Health and Safety Representative (DHSR):​​

​An elected employee responsible for representing employees within a Designated Work Group on matters relating to OHS in the absence of the Health and Safety Representative.​

Designated Work Group (DWG):​

A negotiated and agreed grouping of employees who share similar workplace health and safety concerns and conditions. By default individual workplaces are a DWG.


​Any substance that, when absorbed into the body, alters normal bodily function.​


The Department’s online hazard and incident reporting and management application, accessible on the intranet.  Employees log on using their employee number and password.​


A person employed by the Department, either ongoing, fixed term or casual and whether full-time or part-time.

​Employee Assistance Program (EAP):

​The EAP is a short term, solution focused and strictly confidential counselling service. It is available 24/7 for up to four sessions for Department employees to discuss any personal or work related issues. The Department funds this service as a commitment to health, safety and wellbeing.


A person who employees one or more persons under contracts of employment or contracts of training.​

Engineering control:​

A control that is part of the hierarchy of controls that changes processes, equipment or tools to reduce a risk​.

Fall arrest system:​

Means equipment or material or combination of equipment and material that is designed to arrest the fall or a person e.g. industrial safety net.​


Physical or mental exhaustion caused by stress, medication, overwork, mental and/or physical illness or disease.​

First aid/ treatment:​

Aid or treatment provided to employees, students, contractors or visitors who suffer injury or illness while at work or school. This aid/treatment is usually minor in nature or given until medical aid can be provided.​

​Friable Asbestos:

Asbestos-containing materials that can be crumbled or pulverized to a powder when dry.

G- K


Defined as any physical item such as plant, equipment, chemicals, furniture, or Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)​.


Anything with the potential to cause harm, injury, illness, or loss.​

​Hazardous Building Materials:

Materials, in addition to asbestos, including PCBs, SMFs and lead paint.

​Hazardous Substances (HS):

​Substances that have the potential to cause harm to human health, both in the immediate and long-term.         

A substance is classified as hazardous if it:

  • is listed on the HSIS and the concentration of the substance or its ingredients equals or exceeds the concentration cut-off levels listed on the HSIS that relate to health effects; or

  • meets the criteria for a hazardous substance set out in the Approved Criteria for Classifying Hazardous Substances; or

  • meets the criteria for the hazard classification set out in Part 3 (Health Hazards) of the globally Harmonised System (GHS)

Health and Safety Committee:​

A cooperative forum for employers and employees to work together on OHS issues.​

Health and Safety Representative (HSR):​

An elected employee responsible for representing employees within a DWG on matters relating to OHS.​

Hierarchy of controls:​

There are a number of ways that risks associated with hazards can be reduced however, the effectiveness of each method may vary. The prioritising of approaches in managing the risks associated with a hazard is called the hierarchy of controls and indicates the decreasing level of effectiveness of various approaches. The hierarchy of controls are:

  • Eliminating the hazard at the source

  • Substituting the hazard with something else that poses a lesser risk

  • Isolating the hazard with an engineering control

  • Implementing administrative controls and changing the way work is done

  • Providing Personal Protective Equipment​.

Often a number of different approaches are used in conjunction with each other to provide a more effective risk treatment.

Hot work:​

An operation involving open flame, abrasive grinding and cutting, welding, thermal or oxygen cutting or heating and other related heat-producing or spark-producing operations.​

Improvement Notice:​

A written direction issued by a WorkSafe Inspector requiring a person to remedy a contravention of OHS legislation within a specified time.​


An event that has led to or could have led to an injury. Incidents include near misses, accidents, and injuries.​

Inherent risk:​

The initial risk level of a hazard prior to the application of any controls​.


Physical or psychological injury.


A formal check of physical conditions existing within a defined time and area against pre-established criteria (checklist).​

L - P

Lag indicator:​

​A measured outcome of things occurring in the past e.g. injury/accident statistics, sick days

Lead indicator:​

A measure taken of actions implemented in the present that are designed to influence the future e.g. training, providing trolleys/stepladders etc.

​Lead Paint:

​Lead paint is paint containing lead, which is a heavy metal that was once used to create pigment in paint. All paints manufactured prior to 1978 had lead as one of the ingredients.

​Lower Explosive Limit:

​The lowest concentration (percentage) of a gas or a vapour in air capable of producing a flash of fire in presence of an ignition source (arc, flame, heat).

Maintenance and repair:​

Works considered necessary to ensure that existing facilities continue to function at a satisfactory level and for the purpose for which they were designed.​

Management OHS Nominee:​

A position nominated by the Workplace Manager to oversee the operational aspects of implementing health, safety and wellbeing initiatives, policies and procedures.​

Manual handling:​

Any activity requiring the use or force exerted by a person to lift, lower, push, pull, carry or otherwise move, hold or restrain an object​, person or animal.

Medical treatment:​

Is defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 as treatment by a registered medical practitioner. ‘Treatment’ does not include diagnostic testing or first aid even if this has been provided by a medical practitioner.​

​Mental health:

​Is defined as a state of wellbeing in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with normal stressors of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to the community.

​Minor storage:

​Stored quantities in the one location that are less than the 'Placarding Quantity' in Schedule 2 of the Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012(Refer to Guidance Sheet 1: Chemical Storage). A workplace could have quantities of dangerous goods for which placarding is not required to be displayed.

​Mobile Equipment:

​A wheeled or tracked vehicle which is engine or motor powered.


​Personal monitoring is the method used to determine an employee's exposure to workplace contaminants. In this method the air sample is collected within the breathing zone of the employee. The breathing zone is defined as being within a 30cm radius of the employee's nose and mouth. The sampler is usually attached to the collar of an employee's shirt as high up as possible. Personal samples ensure as far as possible that the air sampled best represents the air inhaled by the employee.


​Static monitoring involves the sampler fixed to an employee's workstation or source of contaminant. Static montoring is ideal for monitoring effectiveness of control measures within a particular work area.

Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD):​

An injury, illness or disease that arises in whole or in part from manual handling in the workplace, whether suddenly occurring or over a prolonged period of time, but does not include an injury, illness or disease caused by crushing, entrapment or cut resulting primarily from the mechanical operation of plant.​

Near miss:​

A near miss is defined as any occurrence that might have led to an injury or illness to people, danger to health and/or damage to property or the environment.​

Nominated employee:​​

​Employee nominated by management to complete specific OHS tasks (this can be the HSR, a member of the health and safety committee or another employee in the workplace).​

​​Non-friable Asbestos:​

Asbestos-containing materials that cannot be crumbled by hand pressure alone.

Notifiable incident:​

Incidents at a workplace which require notification to WorkSafe. ​

​Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL):​

​An occupational exposure limit (OEL) is an upper limit  on the acceptable concentration of a hazardous substance in workplace air for a particular material or class of materials. The OELs are usually expressed as time-weighted average concentrations over an eight-or sometimes 12-hour shift and, where necessary, short-term peak concentrations. The primary objective in setting OELs is the protection of employees from occupational illness or disease. It is typically set by competent national authorities and enforced by legislation.

​Occupational Hygiene:

​Occupational hygiene uses science and engineering to measure the extent of worker exposure and to design and implement approproate control strategies to prevent ill health caused by the working environment. It helps employers and employees understand the risks, and promotes improved working conditions and working practices.


Occupational Health and Safety.​

OHS Procedures:​

Specific procedures that make up the Department’s OHS Management System (OHSMS).  The Department’s system documentation can be distinguished by the unique numbering system DET ESWU-Document Category Number-Number of document in category-Version.​

OHS Purchasing:​

The consideration of health and safety implications when purchasing new or used goods and supplies.

OHS Risk Register:​​

​A register of the OHS hazards, their associated risks, and controls identified at the workplace.​

OHS Training Planner/Register:​

Maintains a record of required and optional OHS training that has been scheduled or completed, and identifies when training has lapsed.​

Other requirements:​​

​Includes Australian Standards, National Occupational Health and Safety Commission Guidelines and Industry Codes.​

​Packing Group:

​Used to indicate the degree of danger associated with dangerous goods within a given class. This information is used to determine appropriate storage (i.e. placarding) and transport requirements.

Passive fall prevention device:​

Means material or equipment, or a combination of material and equipment, that is designed for the purpose of preventing a fall, and that, after initial installation, does not require any ongoing adjustment, alteration, or operation by a person to ensure the integrity of the device to perform its function.​

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):​

Items and clothing intended to provide individual employees with some protection from hazards. Examples of PPE may include protective clothing and footwear, dust masks, gloves and respirators or breathing apparatus.​


​Visual warning of the hazards associated with the dangerous goods stored on site.

​Placarding Quantity:

​The quantity of dangerous goods being stored that exceeds the quantity specified in Schedule 2 of the Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012 (Refer to Guidance Sheet 1: Chemical Storage), above which placarding is required.


Under the OHS Act 2004, “plant includes:
• Any machinery equipment, appliance, implement and tool
• Any component of any of those things
• Anything fitted, connected or related to any of those things.

​Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs):

​The main use of PCBs in building materials is as a plasticiser. They are found predominantly in paints, specialty coatings, caulking, sealants, and other materials as well. They were used in equipment such as fluorescent light fitting capacitors, electric motors, ceiling fans and dishwashers that generally predate 1980.

Provisional Improvement Notice (PIN):​

A formal notice issued by a HSR to an employer if they believe the workplace is contravening a provision of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 or OHS Regulations 2017.  A Provisional Improvement Notice (PIN) may only be issued after consultation aimed at remedying the issue has occurred and the issue remains unresolved.  ​

 Q - U

Reasonably practicable​:

​Defined in the OHS Act 2004, as:
• The likelihood of the hazard or risk eventuating
• The degree of hard that would result if the hazard or risk eventuated
• What the person concerned knows, or ought to know, about the hazard or risk and any ways of eliminating or reducing the hazard
• The availability and sustainability of the ways to eliminate or reduce the hazard or risk
• The cost of eliminating or reducing the hazard or risk.

Residual risk rating:​

The level of risk remaining after risk controls have been identified and implemented.​


The likelihood of harm arising from exposure to any hazards and the consequence of that harm​.

Risk assessment:​

Process undertaken to identify the hazards, risk controls, and level of risk associated with a task or activity.

​Risk control:

Describes the implementation of an action that eliminates, prevents, reduces or mitigates the harm from the potential exposure to a hazard.

Safe Work Method Statement

A document which describes the high risk work being performed, the health and safety risks associated with the work and the risk control measures that will be applied to ensure the work is carried out in a safe manner.
A Job Safety Analysis (JSA) or equivalent may be used instead of a SWMS if it contains the same information.

Safe Work Procedure:​

A step-by-step documented procedure on how to safely conduct a task or operation on an item or piece of equipment.​

​Safety Data Sheet (SDS):

​A document prepared by the manufacturer, importer or supplier of a dangerous good, hazardous substance or other chemicals. A SDS describes the properties and uses of a particular substance including details about substance identity, chemical and physical properties, health hazard information and precautions for storage, use and safe handling.

​Safety Observer:

​Continously monitors contractors inside the confined space, as well as the atmospheric monitoring equipment, ventilation devices and initiate emergency procedures, where required.

School work:​

Requests made by the Workplace Manager or School Council to carry out activities or functions by parents, other association or body.​

​Similar Exposure Group (SEG):

​Sampling of a member of the group that can be deemed representative of the exposure to contaminats of the whole group.

Site preservation:​​

​In the event of an incident, the incident site must not be disturbed until an inspector arrives or until directed by an inspector; except to protect the health and safety or a person; or to provide aid to an injured person involved in the incident; or to take essential action to make the site safe or prevent further incident.​

​Synthetic Mineral Fibres (SMFs):

​SMF is a general term used to describe a number of fibrous materials made from glass, rock, alumina and silica. SMF have been widely used as alternatives to asbestos in insulation and fire-rating products and as reinforcement in cement, plaster and plastic materials.

​Traffic Management Plan:

​A concise overview of the arrangements put in place to manage the risks associated with the interaction of pedestrians and vehicles within Department workplaces.

​Upper explosive limit:

​Highest concentration (percentage) of a gas or a vapour in air capable of producing a flash of fire in presence of an ignition source (arc, flame, heat).

 V- Z 


A person approved by the Workplace Manager, who without payment or reward, voluntarily engages in school work. Volunteers may be community members who assist in working bees, reading to students, serving at the canteen or assisting in school events such as swimming or athletics carnivals and fetes.​

​Working at Height:

​Working at a height of at or over two metres (measured from the soles of your feet to the ground). This also applies in situations that involve a hole, trench, or pit where person could fall

Working With Children’s Check:​

A Working With Children's Check is a screening process undertaken by the State Government to determine whether a person's criminal records or previous professional conduct poses an unjustifiable risk to any children that an individual works with or cares for.


A place, whether or not in a building or structure, where employees or self-employed persons e.g. school, regional office, camp etc.​

​Workplace Contact Officer (WCO) Network:

​The WCO network is a group of staff who have volunteered and been trained as a point of contact for colleagues experiencing harassment, discrimination, bullying, victimisation or family violence. The WCO network provides valuable support across the Department, contributing to a safe and productive workplace where staff are treated fairly and with respect.

Workplace Manager:​

The person who has control or responsibility over a workplace. Within the Department this could mean a Principal of a school, or a Manager of a central office or a regional office.