The Differences in Permitting and Safety Lexicon by Region

If you’re a global company with facilities in different countries and regions, you already know that there are different lexical differences in discussing health and safety in various places around the world.  

If you have multiple terms for each safety hazard across your global sites, you want to make sure that nothing is lost in translation.  

In other settings, a misunderstanding may be fine. However, in permitting and safety, a misunderstanding could pose a threat to the safety of your employees or facility.  

To provide more context on the lexicon between regions, we will go over common differences and a tool you can use to automatically decipher the discrepancies between regions.  

The Differences Between Health and Safety Regulatory Organizations

Even at a base level, the name of the health and safety regulatory organization you follow varies across the globe. You may be following safety regulations with unique safety terms set by the EHS, SHE, OHS, SHEQ.

If you’re in Australia or Canada answering to Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) standards, in the United States or Latin America dealing with Environment Health Safety (EHS) protocols, or in the United Kingdom with Health Safety Environment (HSE), or if you’ve adopted the term Safety Health Environment Quality (SHEQ), they might be similar in spirit, but they can make a big difference if you’re navigating permitting in multiple regulatory environments.

Glossary of Terms for Health and Safety Organizations

Fortunately, most regulatory organizations have created a glossary of the terms they use:  

The unfortunate part is that if you become familiar with one glossary, the terms may not be the same when you go to one of your company’s international locations that uses a different glossary of terms.  

Depending on the severity of the issue, you may have time to search the entire glossary to find what you are looking for. But, in either case, efficiency will be lost as you spend time searching for the alternate term.  

Permit to Work Versus Safe Work Permit as a Basic Example

One of the things you will refer to on a day-to-day basis in permitting and safety will either be a “safe work permit” or a “permit to work.” In a verbal setting, you will probably be able to understand what someone means when they say a “safe work permit.”  

However, certain permitting and safety systems will not have the AI (artificial intelligence) to pick up on the difference if you start typing the wrong name into the system. And that’s not the only layer to this issue.  

There are also different titles for who receives the work permit.  

How do you keep track of whether a blanket hot work permit has gone to a “receiver,” a “permittee,” or an “executing authority”? They may all be the same person, but it sure makes things difficult to track if those terms are not linked back to a single standard across an organization.

And let’s face it, different sites and locations need different types of permits, and those permits, while perhaps called the same thing, might encompass different types of activities and environments. For example, “hot work permits” might, depending on location or region, be used to indicate ignition hazard, spark potential, or simply particularly hazardous work.  

Other Differences to Consider When Permitting in a Global Context

Let’s be clear: differences in terminology are not the only challenges to approaching EHS responsibly.  

Operating sites in multiple countries presents a wide swath of difficulties, including developing technological capacity, nurturing employee engagement, improving global standards, understanding and addressing cultural differences outside of meetings, and complying with specific local regulations.  

What’s more, beyond the specific differences in terminology, the format of particular permits often varies between different sites in the same organization.

The Importance of Flexibility in an Electronic Permitting System

What’s most important about terminology in an electronic permitting system across sites and regions is that it ensures everyone involved has an accurate understanding of the permitting process and the status of individual permits while also allowing individual users to use the terminology with which they’re most familiar.  

This type of system isn’t just a top-down requirement to use particular terms. Forcing employees to use “permitting applicant” when “permitting requestor” has always been the norm is a colossal waste of time and effort—resources that could be spent on more impactful permitting and safety tasks.

Electronic permitting systems can easily implement consistent terminology across sites in different countries or regions. But if this system is unable to simultaneously and seamlessly deal with differences in the terms used by real, on-the-ground users, then the barrier to entry is too high and the possibilities for errors too great.  

How Prometheus’ ePAS Fills the Gap

Prometheus’s Permitting and Safety System represents a highly configurable solution for EHS (OHS, HSE, SHEQ) challenges. All terminology in ePAS is configurable by authorized users on a regional and sub-location basis. In addition, it also comes out-of-box equipped to support many common languages—so you can match up your permits for hot work with your “travail a la chaleur” with your “trabajo en calor.”  

In fact, ePAS can support languages from Icelandic to Bambara because of its configurability. If you provide the translations, the system is flexible enough to ensure that the chosen terms track consistently across sites.

The dual prongs of consistency and flexibility provided by ePAS improve safety and permitting in two main ways. First, the ability to use familiar terms across sites boosts user adoption. This lower barrier to entry for permitting specialists and other stakeholders makes the system easy to use from the jump.  

Second, using ePAS to tie organization-led and site-led terminologies to a master lexicon means that you’re going to get better data quality. And that has major benefits for health and safety, permitting processes, and regulatory compliance.

Prometheus’s ePAS allows your business to outline a standard across all sites and facilities while also reflecting specific, site-based differences.  

Use Prometheus ePAS to Standardize Terminology Across Sites

If you are looking for a way to bridge permitting and safety across sites, Prometheus Permitting and Safety can help. It makes it so you can find the terms you are looking for easily and navigate the permitting and safety environment of any location.  

To find out more about ePAS and how it works, download our ePAS Assurance and Compliance eBook or check out our Permitting and Safety datasheet.  

If you would like to speak to us directly about how Prometheus ePAS can improve your permitting and safety, contact us today.