The A-Z Of Health And Safety Acronyms And Abbreviations


In health and safety, acronyms and abbreviations are common. Shortening phrases to a few letters makes them easier to remember. However, if you're confused by terms like RAMS, ACM, and CDM CPP, this guide will clarify their meanings and help you navigate the jargon with ease.

Acronyms and abbreviations are common in health and safety, and shortening phrases to a few letters makes them easier to remember. However, if you’re confused by terms like RAMS, ACM, and CDM CPP, this guide will clarify their meanings and help you easily navigate the jargon.


ACM – Asbestos Containing Material
Asbestos-containing material (ACM) describes any material that contains asbestos and should be considered hazardous.

ACoP – Approved Code of Practice
Most health and safety regulations also have an approved code of practice produced by the HSE. ACoPs give practical advice on complying with the law and having a special legal status.

ALARP – As Low As Reasonably Practicable
ALARP stands for as low as reasonably practicable. In health and safety regulations, the term is often used as far as is reasonably practicable. These two terms generally mean the same thing. See also SFAIRP.


CAR – Control of Asbestos Regulations
This set of health and safety regulations applies to asbestos materials, covering asbestos management, work, and training.

CDM – Construction (Design & Management) Regulations
The Constriction (Design & Management) Regulations (CDM) are health and safety regulations that apply to all construction work in Great Britain. See also CPP, PCI, and HSF.

CHAS – Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme
CHAS is a health and safety accreditation scheme for the construction industry. Contractors can apply for assessment and approval under the CHAS assessment scheme.

CLP – Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures
The EU (and now GB) duties to classify, label and package substances for sale.

COSHH – Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations
COSHH is a legal requirement for employers to control hazardous substances, including assessing, preventing harm, control measures, instruction and training, monitoring, health surveillance and planning for emergencies.

CPP – Construction Phase Plan
The construction phase plan is required for every construction project under CDM. See also CDM.


dB(A) – Decibel (A-weighted)
A-weighted is an approximation of how the human ear perceives noise. It is used in noise exposure action and limit values.

dB(C) – Decibel (C-weighted)
C-weighting is more commonly used for measuring peak measurements and is utilised in noise exposure action and limit values.

DSE – Display Screen Equipment
Display screen equipment includes PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations apply to workers who use DSE daily, for an hour or more at a time.

DSEAR – Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations
A health and safety law requires employers to control the risks to safety from fire, explosions and substances corrosive to metals.


EAV – Exposure Action Value
The EAV is a value set in regulations, such as The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations, above which you must take action.

ELV – Exposure Limit Value
The ELV is a value set in regulations, such as The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations, that you must not exceed.


H&S – Health and Safety
Yes, there’s even an acronym for health and safety itself!

HASWA / HSW – Health and Safety at Work etc. Act
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act sets out the general health and safety duties that all businesses must comply with in the UK. It also enables further, more specific health and safety regulations to be passed by law and enforced under it.

HAVS – Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome
Nearly 2 million people in the UK are at risk from HAVS. Caused by vibration exposure, it’s a painful and disabling condition that’s permanent – but preventable. See also, VAWR, WBV.

HSE – Health and Safety Executive
Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. The HSE provides guidance, controls licensing, inspects, investigates and enforces health and safety laws.

HSF – Health and Safety File
The health and safety file is required on most construction projects under CDM. See also CDM.


IOSH – Institution of Occupational Safety and Health
IOSH is the Chartered body and leading membership organisation for safety and health professionals.


LEV – Local Exhaust Ventilation
Local exhaust ventilation is equipment used to control and extract dust and fumes from the workplace.

LITE – Load, Individual, Task, Environment
LITE is an acronym for remembering the key areas to assess in a manual handling assessment. See also TILE.

LOLER – Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations
If you own, operate or control lifting equipment, these regulations apply. LOLER requires that lifting equipment is suitable and regularly inspected and that lifting operations are safely planned and controlled.


MHSWR – Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations
This set of regulations applies to every workplace and every employer. The regulations reinforce the general duties under the 1974 Act and add additional requirements. See also HASWA.


NEBOSH – National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health
NEBOSH is a UK-based examination board offering qualifications and courses in health, safety, environment and well-being management.


O&M Manual – Operation & Maintenance Manual
The O&M manual contains information on the operation and maintenance of the building. It is often supplied with the health and safety file. See also HSF.


PAT – Portable Appliance Testing
The examination and testing of electrical appliances and equipment at regular intervals to ensure they are safe to use.

PCI – Pre-Construction Information
The pre-construction information is a document required on construction projects under CDM. See also CDM.

PPE – Personal Protective Equipment
Usually, the user wears this type of equipment—hard hats, gloves, safety boots, goggles, aprons, hi-viz, harnesses, face shields, etc. PPE is used to protect the person from harm.

PUWER – Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations
PUWER requires that equipment is safe, suitable, maintained, inspected and installed correctly. The law also requires that the equipment is used safely and only by competent people.


RAMS – Risk Assessments and Method Statements
RAMS stands for two health and safety documents often found together – Risk Assessments and Method Statements.

RCD – Residual Current Device
An RCD is a sensitive safety device that automatically cuts off electricity if there is a fault. It is used as a control to reduce the risk of electric shock and protect installations against fire.

RCS – Respirable Crystalline Silica
Respirable crystalline silica (also known as silica dust) is created when building products containing silica are cut, drilled or otherwise worked on. Silica dust is harmful to your health.

REACH – Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals
Under REACH, companies must identify and manage the risks created by the substances they manufacture and market.

RIDDOR – Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations
RIDDOR covers the legal requirements for reporting specific injuries, including fatal, major, and over-7-day injuries, plus diseases and dangerous events at work.

RPE – Respiratory Protective Equipment
RPE includes masks, hoods, helmets, suits, and other respirators or breathing apparatus worn to filter out contaminants in the air. RPE can also be used to supply clean air to the user.

RRFSO – Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order
Legislation covering fire precautions, responsibilities, duties, assessment, fighting, detection, training and emergency planning.


SFAIRP – So Far As Is Reasonably Practicable
Every employer has a legal duty to ensure health, safety, and welfare—so far as is reasonably practicable. See also ALARP.

SSIP – Safety Schemes in Procurement
SSIP is an umbrella body for assessment schemes. If you have health and safety accreditation from SSIP members such as CHAS, Acclaim or Safe Contractor, you have satisfied the criteria for all other SSIP member schemes.

STEL – Short-Term Exposure Limits
Short-term exposure limits are a type of workplace exposure limit that applies to short-term exposure (usually a 15-minute reference period). See also WEL and TWA.

SWL – Safe Working Load
The safe working load, marked on the lifting equipment, is the maximum load you should not exceed. See also LOLER.


TBT – Toolbox Talk
Toolbox talks are short safety discussions. They usually happen on the job and are focused on a single safety topic. Here are 30 free toolbox talks.

TILE – Task, Individual, Load, Environment
TILE is an acronym used to remember the key areas to assess in a manual handling assessment. See also, LITE.

TWA – Time Weighted Average
Workplace exposure limits are often averaged over a specified period, referred to as a time-weighted average (TWA). See also STEL and WEL.


VAWR / Vibration Regs – Control of Vibration at Work Regulations
The law for protecting workers from risks to their health and safety from vibration. The regulations introduce action and limit values for hand-arm and whole-body vibration. See also HAVS, WBV.


WBV – Whole Body Vibration
Whole-body vibration is the jolting or shaking of the body, usually experienced when sitting or standing on a moving surface, operating impacting machinery, or driving on an unmade road. See also VAWR and HAVS.

WAHR / Height Regs – Work at Height Regulations
Employers and those in control of any work-at-height activity must ensure work is planned correctly, uses the correct equipment, and is supervised and carried out by competent people.

WEL – Workplace Exposure Limit
Under the COSHH regulations, workplace exposure limits (WELs) are assigned to many hazardous substances. WELs should not be exceeded.

We will add any new abbreviations to this post as we use them throughout our guides and articles. If you’re unsure what any other health and safety acronyms mean that we haven’t covered here, get in touch!

This article was written by Mathew Oldham (HSQE Consultancy Ltd). Mathew has over 20 years of experience in health and safety and an MSc (Hons) in Construction Management. Mathew is NEBOSH Health and Safety, Construction, Fire, Environment and Diploma qualified and CertIOSH.

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