What is the difference between a Hazard & a Risk?
It is common to confuse hazards and risks when learning how to do a risk assessment. In this post we will compare the two and try provide some useful rules and techniques for distinguishing them.
There are multiple definitions for Hazards and Risks, but in terms of workplace health, safety & the environment we define them as:
The Definition of a Hazard:
"A Hazard is an agent that has the potential to cause harm or damage to people, assets or the environment."
As a rule of thumb, think of hazards in terms of actions or as verbs- its not always the case but it will help while getting started. A vehicle on its own is not a hazard but the actions involving vehicles are (e.g. driving a vehicle is a hazard as it has the potential to cause harm or damage)
The Definition of a Risk:
"A Risk is the potential harm or danger associated with a hazard- what could go wrong"
As a rule of thumb, think of risks in terms of what could go wrong with a hazard. In our above example, a risk of driving a vehicle could be getting in an accident with another vehicle.
Check out our post 5 Common Activities, Hazards and their Risks for some more examples of hazards and risks.