A fundamental problem with risk management standards and other associated guiding documents is that the definitions and descriptors of the seven elements of the risk management process within these documents are commonly at odds with each other and are difficult to understand. An implication is that personnel within and across organisations interpret the process in different ways. This has led to some companies developing their own interpretations of the elements in their risk/work health and safety (WHS) management systems and thereby exacerbating the problem. A standard set of definitions, terminology and language are vital for addressing WHS issues efficiently and effectively to result in better outcomes. This study aimed to develop a set of plain English interpretations (PEI) for each of the seven elements of the risk management process. These seven elements sit between the scant and technical definitions contained in standards (primary and secondary) and the voluminous guidance in the handbooks and codes of practice. The Delphi-technique was used with 20 risk-experts to evaluate, over two iterations a set of draft PEIs—developed by the researchers. These were finally reviewed for readability and understandability by 24 operators/workers. The implications for these new PEIs is that they could be considered for future standards and guidance documents by the ISO Working Group Risk Management Standard and similar committees and used by organisations for their risk/WHS management systems.
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