Hazards Vs Risk

Hazards Vs Risk

Hazards Vs Risk

When we talk about workplace safety we commonly refer to part of the Risk Management process as being to identify hazards and assess risks. To enable us to do this it is important to clearly understand the difference between a hazard and a risk. Confusion between these two terms is quite common and the effective application of risk management strategies in workplaces can be compromised as a result.

Manual handling boxes

Very simple definitions and explanations that we can use to unpack these two terms are………….

Hazard = A situation or thing that has the potential to harm

Therefore, a hazard is something that is tangible.  Essentially we can think about a hazard as being the “source” or “cause” of potential harm.


When we are identifying hazards, we should not always restrict our thoughts to people, we may extend hazard identification to include hazards that could potentially harm animals, equipment, buildings or the environment etc.

Risk = The possibility that harm (death, injury or illness) might occur when exposed to a hazard

So, risk is identified as being the possible harm that “results” from exposure to a hazard.


Risk concept

Having identified hazards, the risks arising from them should be assessed. Risk Assessment involves determining the likelihood of an incident occurring, and the level of harm that could result.

When we assess risks, we need to determine what sort of harm could happen, how likely it is that this harm occurs, what the severity of the harm could be and how frequently someone is exposed to the hazard. This is how we calculate the level of risk associated with each hazard that is present in our workplace.

What is the HAZARD   →   what are the RISKS associated with that hazard → Assess the risk


Falls Prevention Checklist

Use a Risk Assessment, in consultation with workers, to determine the best means of identifying, assessing, eliminating or controlling the risk. A control measure is something you do to reduce risk. It can be a process, procedure, or action that will eliminate or reduce the risk posed by specific hazards.

Here are some examples of common workplace safety hazards and their associated risks……..

Hazard = noisy machinery       Risk = deafness; hearing loss; failure to hear warning signals resulting in injuries

Hazard = cleaning chemicals   Risk = chemical poisoning; allergic reactions; chemical reaction causing   chemical burns or eye injuries

Hazard = violence                       Risk = psychological illness; physical injury

Hazard = electricity                    Risk = electrocution or electric shock; involuntary body reaction to electric shock causing fall onto floor resulting in injuries

Hazard = lifting people             Risk =  Musculoskeletal injury caused by overstretching and twisting while lifting a person resulting in serious back injury

Hazard = animal handling       Risk =  trampled by uncontrolled animal causing fractures and bruising

Hazard = working at height     Risk = death or serious injury caused by fall from one level to another

Hazard = moving vehicles       Risk = death or serious injury caused by being hit or run over by a moving vehicle

Laden mules

As you can see from these examples, there can be more than one risk resulting from a single hazard. It is an interesting exercise in a workplace to give the above information to your workers, and see if they can identify more risks that are associated with each of these hazards listed in our example. This is a simple yet effective exercise that can help people actively think about the hazards and risks in your workplace.

STOP    →    THINK   →     PLAN      =  WORK SAFE     




Phone: 0448 27 32 32

Web: www.safetymakers.com.au

By | 2017-08-16T16:25:11+10:00 July 18th, 2016|Managing Safety, News, Risk Management, Safety Information, Uncategorized|0 Comments