Glossary of OHS Terms – BSBOHS502B – Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety


Glossary of Occupational Health and Safety Terms

The criteria for this unit of competency include understanding certain OHS terms. Developing a glossary of terms is a useful way to ensure you have the basic terminology correct. It is strongly recommended that you add to your glossary throughout this unit and the rest of your study.

Some terms relevant to this unit are defined below. Make sure that you are familiar with the Glossary of terms before going any further.


The object, substance, or circumstance which was the direct cause of the most serious injury or disease (Safe Work Australia, formerly ASCC/NOHSC, 2004c).

Breakdown agency

The object, substance, or circumstance that was principally involved in, or most closely associated with, the point at which things started to go wrong and which ultimately led to the most serious injury or disease (Safe Work Australia, formerly ASCC/NOHSC, 2004c).


Raw information which may be numerical or non-numerical.

Key person

Person, not a stakeholder, who influences decisions on OHS or may be affected by OHS decisions.

Lag indicator

Refer to negative performance indicator.

Lead indicator

Refer to positive performance indicator.

Lost time injury and diseases (LTI/D)

Fatality, permanent disability or injury involving time lost from work of one day/shift or more.

Mechanism of incident or injury

The process that best describes the circumstances in which the injury/disease occurred (Safe Work Australia, formerly ASCC/NOHSC, 2004c).

Medical treatment injury

Injury or condition requiring medical treatment but no time lost from work.

Negative performance indicators

Typically focus on measurement of loss such as LTI/D, and costs of injury. Also called outcome or lag indicators as the time required for trends to become apparent usually ‘lag’ well behind implementation of initiatives.


Process(es) which give(s) rise to damage, injury or ill-health.

Performance indicator

A statistic or other unit of information which reflects directly or indirectly the extent to which an anticipated outcome is achieved or the quality of processes leading to that outcome (New South Wales Health Department in (Safe Work Australia, formerly ASCC/NOHSC, 1999).

Positive performance indicators (PPI)

Focus on monitoring the processes that should produce good OHS outcomes. Also called lead indicators or ‘drivers’ as they measure the activities that drive good OHS performance.

Qualitative data

Is ‘non quantifiable’. It attempts to explain the ways people come to account for, take action and otherwise manage their day to day situations. With qualitative research, most analysis is done with words. Some typical methods of qualitative data sources are observation, open ended or unstructured interviews and conversational analysis.

Quantitative data

Can be measured or a number applied and variables correlated (eg, through use of statistics). Some typical sources of quantitative data are injury statistics, measurements of airborne contaminants and noise surveys. Questionnaires also give quantitative results.

Total recordable injuries

Are all injuries that are recorded in the workplace. This usually includes first aid treatments, medical treatment injuries and lost time injuries/diseases.

Work related injury

The result of a single traumatic event where the harm or hurt is immediately apparent, for example a cut resulting from an incident with a knife or burns resulting from an acid splash (Safe Work Australia, formerly ASCC/NOHSC, 2004c).

Work related disease

Usually results from repeated or long-term exposure to an agent or event − for example, loss of hearing as a result of long-term exposure to noise; from a single exposure to an infectious agent; or from multiple or uncertain causes (Safe Work Australia, formerly ASCC/NOHSC, 2004c).

Reliability of data

The consistency or repeatability of the information.


A number calculated from data that quantifies a particular set of data.

Validity of data

Whether the information or the measure actually addresses what it is intended to measure.


Those people or organisations who may be affected by, or perceive themselves to be affected by, an activity or decision. In workplace OHS, stakeholders include:

  • managers;
  • supervisors;
  • health and safety and other employee representatives;
  • OHS committees;
  • employees and contractors; and
  • the community.

Read More OHS Terms

LMIT delivers the Certificate IV in OHS and the Diploma in Occupational Health & Safety Completely Online in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra.  The Advanced Diploma in OHS is also available via RPL only.

Published by: LMIT

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