The field of workplace safety is no different from other fields. Acronyms are often used to denote a basic principle or phrase. In the case of workplace safety, the most commonly used acronyms are OHS, WHS, and OSH. These workplace safety acronyms are often used interchangeably even by workplace safety auditors, experts, and lawmakers. The question is, are they actually one and the same?
Work Health and Safety
In Australia, the most commonly used acronym in workplace safety is WHS or Work Health and Safety. It was previously referred to in the country as Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S). The advent of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, however, gave rise to the usage of the term Work Health and Safety or WHS. With the development and introduction of a national policy which provides a solid framework for the protection of the health, safety and welfare of the workforce, it’s only proper for Aussies to adopt a term explicitly stated in that very same policy.
Occupational Health and Safety
The most commonly used acronym in workplace safety in the world, however is OHS, which stands for Occupational Health and Safety. Most countries in the world use it for any workplace health and safety-related concern. Proof of that is the fact that the internationally accepted safety standard OHSAS 18001:2007 has the acronym OHS in it.
Occupational Safety and Health
Meanwhile, the acronym OSH, which stands for Occupational Safety and Health, is the standard term for some countries including the United States. The State of California, however, is an exception. Instead of OSH, it uses the term IIPP which means Injury and Illness Prevention Program when managing health and safety in the workplace.
The terms may vary, but their goals and purpose are one and the same: To secure the health and safety of workers and workplaces the world over.