Glossary of Terms

Glossary of terms found commonly in confined space and safe work at height training.



Term Meaning
Australian Standard


Standards are published documents setting out specifications and procedures designed to ensure products, services and systems are safe, reliable and consistently perform the way they were intended to. They establish a common language which defines quality and safety criteria.


Competency based training


Competency based training is an approach to vocational education and training that places emphasis on what a person can do in the workplace as a result of completing a program of training or based on workplace experience and learning.


Currency of training


When you were last trained, what experience have you had since that training date. Many organisations stipulate a retraining period in their Policy & Procedures to ensure currency of training. Consider being trained 10 years ago, working actively in the industry, but in that time many of the regulations and rules have changed, are you really current??




the formal statement of the meaning or significance of a word, phrase, idiom, etc., as found in dictionaries.


Definition Confined Space


From the WHS Act Regulation 5:A confined space means an enclosed or partially enclosed space that:

  • is not designed or intended primarily to be occupied by a person; and
  • is, or is designed or intended to be, at normal atmospheric pressure while any person is in the space; and
  • is or is likely to be a risk to health and safety from: an atmosphere that does not have a safe oxygen level, or
  • contaminants, including airborne gases, vapours and dusts, that maycause injury from fire or explosion, or
  • harmful concentrations of any airborne contaminants, or
  • engulfment.
Definition Working at Heights


WHS Regulations define working at heights when there is a risk of a fall by a person from one level to another




Elevated Work Platform – ie scissor lifts, knuckle booms, straight booms, trailer mounted booms, lift pods etc


EWP Ticket


EWPs that cannot reach above 11m you need a “Yellow Card” inductionEWPs that reach 11m or more you need WorkCover White Card Accreditation




When working at height, a freefall is a fall where the worker falls greater than 600mm, but should not fall any greater than 2m if set up correctly. This type of fall is highly dangerous, and workers can die or be severely injured if working in free-fall.




advice or information aimed at resolving a problem or difficulty, especially as given by someone in authority.




A list of safety options from the best option to the worst.


Hierarchy of Controls


When a hazard is identified, you apply the “Hierarchy of Controls” to that hazard to either eliminate or minimize risk. The hierarchy is: Eliminate – Substitute – Isolate – Engineering – Administration & PPE


Hot work


Hot work is any process that can be a source of ignition when flammable material is present or can be a fire hazard regardless of the presence of flammable material in the workplace. Common hot work processes are welding, soldering, cutting and brazing.


Job Safety Analysis(JSA)


job safety analysis (JSA) is a procedure which helps integrate accepted safety and health principles and practices into a particular task or job operation. In a JSA, each basic step of the job is to identify potential hazards and to recommend the safest way to do the job.




An appliance usually consisting of two side rails joined at regular intervals by cross-pieces — called steps, rungs, or cleats — on which a person may step while ascending or descending




Refers to the National Work Health and Safety Act 2011 – this is the enforceable Act of Parliament in all states of Australia excluding Western Australia


Limited Free Fall


This is when a worker falls from a structure, but due to the nature of how is setup he cannot fall any further than 600mm.   Commonly the use of an inertia reel or a very tort lanyard will achieve this


Lower Explosive Limit


Lower explosive limit (LEL): 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).


LEL See above


A qualified person who controls the operation of a machine


Oxygen Deficiency


Oxygen deficiency is the amount of oxygen that has been lost from a space. Oxygen is 20.9%, so any level less than 20.9% means you have an oxygen deficiency, and you need to determine why. Most common is another gas entering the space displacing the air, therefore the O2 drops. BUT remember if this is the case, your monitor only measures oxygen loss, and not the corresponding nitrogen loss. Air in simple terms is made up of 20% O2 & 80%N2, so a 4:1 mix, so for every 1% oxygen drop there is a corresponding 4% nitrogen drop, meaning you have actually lost 5% of the volume of the space. The low O2 alarm goes off at 19.5%


Oxygen Excess


Oxygen excess is any level of oxygen in your space above 20.9%. The only way this can occur is if there is a pure oxygen leak into your space, commonly from the oxy bottle in oxy acetylene. The hazard is the increased risk of fire and explosion. The O2 alarm goes off at 23.5%




picture, also called an image, is a group of coloured points on a flat surface that looks the same as something else. For example, a picture can look the same as an object or a person. Pictures can also be drawings, paintings or photographs.




a scheme or method of acting, doing, proceeding, making, etc., developed in advance: “rescue plans”.


Platform Ladder


A self-supporting ladder of fixed size with a platform provided at the working level. The size is determined by the distance along the front rail from the platform to the base of the ladder.


Pole Strap


This is a lanyard designed to connect to either hip of a workers harness when on a pole, tower or similar structure and allows them to work hands free in restraint.




Policies are clear, simple statements of how your organisation intends to conduct its services, actions or business. They provide a set of guiding principles to help with decision making.




Personal Protective Equipment – the minimum equipment designed to make a person safer in the work place for carrying out designated tasks ie helmet, gloves, steel cap boots, hi viz clothing, plus breathing apparatus, harnesses, gas monitors etc




Power Point Presentation – when training trainer will normally use a Microsoft product called PowerPoint to project slides onto a screen or wall.




presentation is a means of communication which can be adapted to various speaking situations, such as talking to a group, addressing a meeting or briefing a team.




Procedures describe how each policy will be put into action in your organisation. Each procedure should outline:

  • Who will do what
  • What steps they need to take
  • Which forms or documents to use.




A duty imposed on a person under provisions of the WHS Regulations in relation to health and safety to comply with that specific law, noncompliance is considered a breach, and a fine or legal proceedings may take place.


Refresher Training


Once units of competency are gained, it is the responsibility of workers and management to ensure that person maintains those skills and knowledge. This is also required in certain Australian Standards, like AS2865. Refresher Training takes place to meet those needs.   See Currency of training


Rescue in confined spaces


Regulation 74:A person conducting a business or undertaking must establish first aid and rescue procedures to be followed in an emergency and ensure those procedures are practised as necessary to ensure that they are efficient and effective. First aid and rescue procedures must be initiated from outside the confined space as soon as practicable in an emergency.


Rescue when working at height


Regulation 80: A person conducting a business or undertaking who implements a fall-arrest system as a measure to control risk must establish emergency and rescue procedures. The procedures must be tested so that they are effective. Workers must be provided with suitable and adequate information, instruction and training in relation to the emergency procedures.




When working at height it is preferred the worker works in restraint. This means the system he is using ie harness and lanyard, will not allow him to go over the edge.




Organisations require workers to maintain a specific currency to their training, and therefore will ask workers to have refresher training at set periods. See also currency of training


Risk Assessment


a systematic process of evaluating the potential risks that may be involved in a projected activity or undertaking. See also JSA


Safe Work Permit


Safe work permit is a written record that authorizes an employee with a specific work, at a specific location, for a specific period of time. A safe work permit is an agreement between an issuer and a receiver that identifies the conditions, preparations, precautions and limitations before commencement of a work. Such as a confined space permit, working at heights permit, excavation permit, hot work permit etc


Safe Work Method Statement(SWMS)


Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) is a document that: lists the types of high risk construction work being done. States the health and safety hazards and risks arising from that work. Describes how the risks will be controlled, and. describes how the risk control measures will be put in place.  Also see Risk Assessment and JSA




Any temporary elevated platform and its supporting structure used for supporting workers, materials, or both


Statement of Attainment


An Australian Qualifications Framework Statement of Attainment is a record of recognised learning which, although falling short of an Australian Qualifications Framework qualification, may contribute towards a qualification outcome, either as partial completion of a course leading to a qualification, attainment of competencies within a Training Package, or completion of a nationally accredited short course which may accumulate towards a qualification through Recognition of Prior Learning processes.


Statement of Attendance A certificate recognising the person attended a formal training session.
Short Term Exposure Limit


Short Term Exposure Limit is the amount of toxic gas a worker is exposed to in a 15 minute period. The worker then must take a one hour break before re entering the space where the gas is, and the worker can only have four exposures in one day, and they must not exceed the TWA.


STEL See above
Ticket Expiry


Some accreditations, particularly those endorsed by NSW WorkCover do have an expiry date, and will require renewing. This may just be a fee. See currency of training.


Time Weighted Average


This is a measurement of the intact of toxic gas, based on an eight hour exposure over a 40 working week, measured in ppm.


TWA See above
Toolbox Talk


Toolbox Talk is an informal group discussion that focuses on a particular safety issue. These tools can be used daily to promote your departments safety culture. Toolbox talks are also intended to facilitate health and safety discussions on the job site.


Toxic Gas


Toxic gases: these are gases that are harmful to humans when inhaled or ingested in various quantities. This includes gases such as ammonia, chlorine, sulphur, and many others. The official definition of a toxic gas is: “A compressed gas or vapour that has a median lethal concentration (LC50) in air of 200 parts per million (ppm) by volume, or 2 milligrams per litre of mist, fume, or dust, when administered by continuous inhalation for one hour (or less if death occurs within one hour) to albino rats weighing between 200 and 300 grams each.”




Instruction, including information about potential hazards, to enable a trainee to become a qualified person for a task to be performed.  Also see competency based training


Unit of Competency


National standards define the competencies required for effective performance in the workplace. A competency comprises the specification of knowledge and skill and the application of that knowledge and skill at an industry level, to the standard of performance required in employment. Units of competency can be either industry or enterprise based. Units of competency can be downloaded from the National Training Information Service database


Upper Explosive Limit


Upper explosive limit (UEL): 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). Concentrations higher than UFL or UEL are “too rich” to burn.


UEL See above

For a detailed explanation of terms when working at height, please also visit here.