School operations

Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Management in Schools

8. Defined health and safety terms

  • Accident
    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 (such as training, installation of signage and warning labels).

    Adverse driving conditions
    Unfavourable circumstances that reduce optimum driving conditions such as poor visibility, adverse weather, road conditions, traffic and so on.

    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.

    Annoyance Noise
    Noise that is is below the noise exposure standard and is unlikely to pose a risk to hearing. 'Annoyance' noise may interfere with communication, annoy or distract people such as photocopiers or telephone conversations.

    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 Containing Material (ACM)
    Any manufactured material or object that, as part of its design, contains one or more of the fibrous forms of mineral silicates belonging to the serpentine or amphibole groups of rock-forming minerals, including actinolite, amosite (brown asbestos), anthophyllite, crocidolite (blue asbestos), chrysotile (white asbestos) or tremolite.

    Examples of ACM include: asbestos-containing cement sheets, cement pipes, vinyl tiles, sprayed insulation, telecommunications pits, pipe lagging, millboard and gaskets.

    Asbestos Coordinator
    A person who is responsible for the safe management of ACM within the workplace who, by default, is the school principal. It can also be a suitable person appointed by the school principal. The asbestos coordinator is the main contact for asbestos-related issues in the school.

    Asbestos Register
    The asbestos register contains current information about the existence and location of any known or presumed ACM on the school site, based on an initial Division 5 Asbestos Audit Report and subsequent quarterly visual inspections to update the register.

    Aseptic Technique
    Aseptic technique aims to prevent pathogenic organisms, in sufficient quantity to cause infection, from being introduced to susceptible body sites by the hands of staff, surfaces or equipment. It involves applying the strictest rules to minimise the risk of infection. Aseptic techniques range from simple practices, such as using alcohol to sterilise the skin, to full surgical techniques, which involves the use of sterile gowns, gloves, and masks.

    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.

    Biological Material
    Biological material is a material produced by a biological system.

    In the school environment biological material(s) may vary according to the purpose for which they are collected (such as part of the curriculum activity)

    Examples of biological material are:

    • animal tissue(s)
    • fungi
    • body fluid such as human saliva
    • microorganisms
    • plant material

    Note: The taking of human blood samples or the use of human blood products is not permitted.

    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:

    • the school to lead the project
    • to work in partnership with the Department
    • 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 such as 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 such as an Occupational Hygienist, electrician, plumber.

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

    Confined Space
    Defined as:

    • having an enclosed or partially enclosed space with restricted entry and exit
    • containing an oxygen concentration outside the safe oxygen range
    • containing a concentration of airborne contaminants that may cause impairment, loss of consciousness, or asphyxiation
    • containing a concentration of flammable airborne contaminant that may cause injury from fire or explosion
    • risk of engulfment in any stored substances (such as grain, sand or saw dust), except liquids

    Examples of confined spaces 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 principal. 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. A Confined Space Entry Permit is valid for a maximum of 24 hours.

    Airborne substances and other work environment hazards including dust, lighting, radiation, gases, vapours, mould and fumes.

    Noise may also be an environmental hazard and it has specific requirements under OHS compliance code.

    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.

    Cooling Tower
    A cooling tower is a heat reducing system used in air conditioning when water is used to cool the air. As water is stored in cooling towers, they can be a breeding ground for Legionella and other bacteria to grow. An evaporative air cooler or evaporative air-conditioner is not a cooling tower.

    Cooling Tower Auditor
    An auditor certified by the Department of Health and Human Services to undertake an annual cooling tower system audits.

    Cooling Tower Risk Management Plan
    A risk management plan should contain a number of basic components, namely:

    • site and contact details
    • assessment of each of the critical risks
    • summary of the overall risk classification
    • details of the system collected during the risk assessment process
    • attachments or reference to other documents such as operational plans, shut-down procedures etc.

    The purpose of the Risk Management Plan is to apply and document best practices to effectively control the growth and transmission of Legionella bacteria while considering the risks that are unique to the Cooling Tower being assessed.

    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.

    Division 5 Asbestos Audit
    A visual inspection conducted by an Occupational Hygienist at least every five years to identify the existence, location and condition of any known or assumed ACM on the school site. Results of the audit are reported in a Division 5 Asbestos Audit Report.

    Division 6 Hazardous Building Materials Audit
    Mandated sampling required of suspected ACM (where there is uncertainty) to verify the existence of asbestos prior to work commencing in an affected area of the school. Results of this sampling are documented in a Division 6 Hazardous Materials Audit Report.

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

    eduSafe Plus
    The department’s online incident reporting and hazard management system. All workplace hazards, employee incidents, student incidents, sick bay and first aid must be reported on eduSafe Plus. 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 .

    The process of designing and/or modifying tools, materials, equipment, plant, work spaces, tasks, jobs, products, systems and environments to match the physical and mental capabilities and limitations of users, including those with special needs and those returning to work following injury or illness. It also involves cognitive processes such as perception, memory, reasoning, decision making and motor response.

    Ergonomic Hazard
    An ergonomic hazard is a physical or psychosocial factor in a work system or work environment that can cause biomechanical stress and damage to the human musculoskeletal system. Ergonomic hazards include examples such as repetitive movement, manual handling, workplace / job / task design, uncomfortable workstation set up and poor body positioning.

    The occurrence of an incident, injury, near miss, hazard or sick bay attendance. The term event is used in eduSafe Plus, the Department’s incident reporting and hazard management system

    Excessive Noise
    Exposure to excessive noise over a long period of time will damage a person’s hearing. The exposure standard states that noise “must not exceed an eight hour noise level equivalent of 85 dB(A) or peak at more than 140 dB(C)”.

    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.

    Flexible Work
    Performing part of the employee’s work at a remote workplace (such as home, library) during the designated work hours on a regular basis, using electronic communication on a regular basis.

    Flexible Work Arrangements
    Once a proposal for flexible work arrangements has been accepted, principals and the employee work towards the completion of a Telecommuting Agreement using the Department’s Telecommuting Agreement template.

    The Agreement confirms mutual understanding of the specific arrangements in each case, OHS regulations and legal responsibilities. The Agreement is a record of the terms and conditions and defines the responsibilities and obligations of both parties.

    The Department’s Flexible Work Agreement addresses the following areas:

    • variation to terms of employment
    • commencement and Review of agreement
    • trial period
    • work arrangements
    • communication
    • security
    • occupational health & safety
    • child / dependent care
    • access to remote workplace
    • insurance and Indemnity
    • email/internet policy
    • equipment and supplies
    • reimbursement of expenses
    • performance management and review
    • termination of telecommuting agreement

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

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

    A chemical is classified as hazardous if it:

    • is listed on the HCIS and the concentration of the chemical or its ingredients equals or exceeds the concentration cut-off levels listed on the HCIS 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)

    Hazardous Manual Handling
    Work requiring the use of force exerted by a person to lift, lower, push, pull, carry or otherwise move, hold or restrain a thing if the work involves one or more of the following:

    • sustained awkward position
    • repetitive movement
    • application of single or repetitive use of unreasonable amount of force
    • exposure to vibration
    • lifting persons or animals
    • unbalanced or unstable loads
    • loads that are difficult to grasp or hold
    • Health and Safety Committee (HSC)
    • 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.

    High Risk Work
    Based on the level of risk the following is mandated as high risk work by the Department:

    • confined space entry
    • demolition works
    • hazardous manual handling
    • hot works (e.g. welding)
    • removal or disturbance of asbestos
    • temporary supports for structural alterations
    • tilt-up or precast concrete
    • trenches or shafts deeper than one and half metres
    • use of explosives
    • use of Hazardous Chemicals and Dangerous Goods
    • using powered mobile plant (e.g. forklift)
    • working at height (two metres or more)
    • work in tunnels
    • work that is in, on or near:
    • artificial temperature extremes (e.g. work in an operating cool room or freezer)
    • chemical, fuel or refrigerant lines
    • contaminated or flammable atmospheres
    • electrical installations or services
    • pressurised gas distribution mains or piping
    • roads
    • telecommunications towers
    • water / liquids that pose a drowning risk

    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).

  • 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.

    Lock Out / Tag Out
    The placement of a lockout device on an energy-isolating device in accordance with an established procedure. A lockout device is a mechanical means of locking that uses an individually keyed lock to secure an energy-isolating device in a position that prevents energisation of a machine, equipment, or a process.

    Tag out devices, are prominent warning devices that an authorised employee fastens to energy-isolating devices to warn employees not to reenergise the machine while he or she services or maintains it. Tag out devices are easier to remove and, by themselves, provide employees with less protection than do lockout devices.

    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 (Vic)External Link 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
    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. Mental health can be explained on a continuum where mental health is at one end, represented by feeling good and functioning well, through to severe symptoms of mental health conditions at the other. Mental health is not fixed or in a static state, and individuals can move back and forth along this scale at different times during their lives.

    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 2022 (Vic)External Link (Refer to Guidance Sheet 1: Chemical Storage (DOCX)External Link . A workplace could have quantities of dangerous goods for which placarding is not required to be displayed.

    Mobile Plant and Equipment
    A wheeled or tracked vehicle which is engine or motor powered. Examples:

    • ride on lawn mowers
    • tractors
    • forklifts
    • scissor lifts

    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 monitoring is ideal for monitoring effectiveness of control measures within a particular work area.

    Mould is a type of fungi that lives on plant and animal matter. It grows best in damp and poorly ventilated conditions, and reproduces by making spores which can be a health hazard for humans. Airborne mould spores are commonly found in both indoor and outdoor environments. When they land on damp spots they can begin to grow and spread. There is no practical way to eliminate all mould indoors; the way to control indoor mould growth is to control the source of moisture.

    Mould can trigger nasal congestion, sneezing, cough, wheeze, respiratory infections and worsen asthma and allergic conditions. People with weakened immune systems; allergies; severe asthma; chronic, obstructive, or allergic lung diseases are more susceptible to these symptoms and other serious health effects.

    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.

    Musculoskeletal Risks
    Risks of developing Musculoskeletal disorders which constitute any 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.

    Noise Exposure Standard
    The exposure standard is in two parts and states that noise must not exceed 85 dB(A) averaged over an eight hour period or a maximum (peak) noise level of 140 dB(C).

    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
    Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, schools must notify WorkSafe immediately after becoming aware a notifiable incident has occurred. Failure to report an incident to WorkSafe is an offence and may result in prosecution.

    A notifiable incident is any of the following incidents, if they occur at the school or any other Department of Education and Training owned or operated premise, or at a school activity.

    You must report incidents resulting in:

    • the death of a person
    • a person needing medical treatment within 48 hours of exposure to a substance
    • a person needing immediate treatment as an in-patient in a hospital (note: there is no requirement to notify WorkSafe under this provision where no treatment was provided, for example, medical diagnosis provided only or they presented to emergency and were not admitted)
    • a person needing immediate medical treatment for the following injuries:
      • amputation
      • serious head injury
      • serious eye injury
      • removal of skin (for example, de-gloving, scalping)
      • electric shock
      • spinal injury
      • loss of bodily function (including a limb due to a fracture)
      • serious lacerations (example: requiring stitching or other medical treatment).

    Medical treatment means treatment by a person registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to practice in the medical, nursing or midwifery profession (doctor, nurse, midwife and so on).

    You must also report the following incidents if they expose a person to a serious risk to their health or safety emanating from an immediate or imminent exposure to:

    • an uncontrolled escape, spillage or leakage of any substance , including dangerous goods within the meaning of the Dangerous Goods Act 1985
    • an implosion, explosion or fire
    • electric shock
    • the fall or release from a height of any plant, substance or thing
    • the collapse, overturning, failure or malfunction of, or damage to, any high risk plant (for example, lifts, gas cylinders, ride-on mowers, scaffolding, amusement rides)
    • the collapse or partial collapse of a building or structure
    • the collapse or failure of an excavation or mine or of any shoring supporting an excavation or mine
    • the inrush of water, mud or gas in workings in an underground excavation, tunnel or mine
    • the interruption of the main system of ventilation in an underground excavation, tunnel or mine.

    Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL)
    An occupational exposure limit (OEL) is an upper limit on the acceptable concentration of a hazardous chemical 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 appropriate 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 Hygienist
    An Occupational Hygienist utilises the teachings of both science and engineering in order to identify and understand hazards in the workplace and the risk to the health and safety of employers and employees. It is their role to identify potential risks from exposure to biological, chemical, psychosocial, physical and ergonomic hazards within the workplace and the course of work-related duties.

    Hazards are anticipated based on precedent in certain industries or environments where it can be foreseen that there may be the danger to those exposed. From here, the Occupational Hygienist would then review the workplace or environment and recognise and evaluate whether there is a presence of a threat.

    Occupational Hygienists are trained in hazard management and risk assessment and apply the ‘Hierarchy of Control’ approach when recommending control measures to prevent ill health.

    Occupational Health and Safety.

    OHS Procedures
    Specific procedures that make up the Department’s OHS Management System (OHSMS).

    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 Monitoring
    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.

    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 2022 (Vic)External Link (Refer to Guidance Sheet 1: Chemical Storage (DOCX)External Link , 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.

    Under Regulation 74 of the OHS Regulations 2017 plant is further defined as:

    • plant that lifts or moves persons or materials, including objects and substances such as empty receptacles, bins landfill rubbish, metals and soil (e.g. lifts, escalators, cranes, hoists, powered mobile plant, elevated work platforms)
    • pressure equipment, tractors, earthmoving machinery, lasers, scaffolds, temporary access equipment, explosive-powered tools, turbines and amusement structures
      • plant that processes material by way of a mechanical action that:
        cuts, drills, punches or grinds the material (e.g. woodworking saws, drill presses, clicking presses, bench grinders)
      • presses, forms, hammers, joins or moulds the material (e.g. power presses, die casting machines, forging hammers, plastic injection moulding machines), or
      • combines, mixes, sorts, packages, assembles, knits or weaves the material (e.g. dough mixers, packaging machines, knitting machines.)

    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 (OHS) Act 2004 (Vic)External Link or OHS Regulations 2017 (Vic)External Link . A Provisional Improvement Notice (PIN) may only be issued after consultation aimed at remedying the issue has occurred and the issue remains unresolved.

    Psychological Hazard
    A psychological hazard is any hazard that affects the mental wellbeing or mental health of the employee by overwhelming individual coping mechanisms and impacting the employee's ability to work in a healthy and safe manner. Examples of psychological hazards are:

    • work-related stress
    • work-related occupational violence
    • workplace bullying
  • 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.

    Risk Management Methodology
    Risk management methodology is a four step process whereby:

    1. hazards are identified in the workplace (such as: workplace inspections, consultation with employees, eduSafe reports)
    2. identified hazards are risk assessed (such as: determining how likely and how serious the effects will be on employees exposed to the hazard)
    3. risk controls measures are implemented which will eliminate or minimise the injury from the identified hazards
    4. periodic reviews of the risk controls to ensure the implemented control measures are appropriate and effective

    Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS)
    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
    Continuously monitors contractors inside the confined space, as well as the atmospheric monitoring equipment, ventilation devices and initiate emergency procedures, where required.

    School Asbestos Management Plan (SAMP)
    A school asbestos management plan is a documented outline of how asbestos in each school will be managed.

    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 contaminants 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.

    Slip, Trip and Fall
    Slips occur when a person’s foot loses traction with the ground surface due to inappropriate footwear or walking on slippery floor surfaces that are highly polished, wet or greasy.

    Trips occur when a person’s foot catches on an object or surface. In most cases people trip on low obstacles that are hard to spot such as uneven edges in flooring, loose mats, open drawers, untidy tools or electrical cables.

    Falls (under two metres) can result from a slip or trip but many occur during falls from low heights such as steps, stairs and curbs, falling into a hole or a ditch or into water.

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

    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).

  • Voice Care
    Often called ‘Vocal Hygiene or Health’, caring for your voice means learning to pay attention to the signals that your voice gives you so that you take the necessary steps to avoid getting injured in the first place. It also requires that you think ahead, learning to change certain behaviours which might lead to an injured voice e.g. improving how the larynx (voice box) works through voice therapy.

    A person approved by the principal, 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 alone or in Isolation
    A person is deemed to be working alone or in isolation when they cannot be seen or heard by another person and have limited means of communication for an extended period of time.

    Working alone or in isolation may include working from home, working in limited access areas (example: working in a filing room with limited contact with others) or working over holiday breaks.

    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 Climate
    Workplace climate represent employees’ perceptions of organisational policies, practices and procedures and subsequent patterns of interactions and behaviours that support the same (such as the support that employees feel they receive from the organisation).

    The organisational culture is a system of shared assumptions, beliefs and values that governs how the people in the organisation behave. The culture of an organisation breeds a workplace climate, which represents how members of the workplace experience that organisation’s culture.

    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.

Includes a list of defined health and safety terms used in OHS policies and procedures

Reviewed 13 June 2024

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