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What is the difference between hazard and risk in health and safety?

hazard risk difference

What is the difference between hazard and risk in health and safety?

A hazard is a source or a situation or a thing or activity with the potential to cause harm to a human being; it has the potential to cause damage to property or an asset of people or a company. It can damage the environment and even a company’s reputation. 

People are exposed to hazards while working, and various hazards are prevalent in the workplace; the hazards are always unsafe acts and unsafe conditions. Also, we have categories of hazards, including physical, biological, chemical, psychosocial, ergonomic, and safety hazards. There are also many ways that hazards can be controlled effectively. 

Hazards at work may include noisy machinery, moving forklifts, equipment, etc. People often mix hazards and risks as the same thing, but it’s different in health and safety. There are hazards everywhere, but their risk levels are different. The risk level tells us whether the hazard will cause harm when it happens and gives us an idea of the severity of the damage. 

What is a risk?

A risk is the probability or likelihood of something happening. There is a chance of something wrong or having a negative effect from happening. In determining the level of risks, you have to consider the below

  • The likelihood of the unwanted event happening.
  • The potential consequences of that unwanted event.

Risk can also mean the likelihood of that hazard causing harm when it happens.

  • For example, a water spill under the table will not have the same risk as a spill on the walkway, even though they’re all water spills.
  • A trailing cable under the table will not have the same effect as a trailing cable on a walkway. The cable under the walkway will likely cause more harm than the cable under the table.


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