What is a hazard and what is risk?

What are hazards?

A hazard is a source or a situation with the potential for harm in terms of human injury or ill-health, damage to property, damage to the environment, or a combination of these.

Hazards at work may include noisy machinery, a moving forklift, chemicals, electricity, working at heights, a repetitive job, or inappropriate behaviour that adversely affects a worker’s safety and health.

An unwanted event is a situation or condition where there is a loss of control of the hazard that leads to harm.

What is risk?

A risk is the chance of something happening that will have a negative effect. The level of risk reflects:

  • the likelihood of the unwanted event
  • the potential consequences of the unwanted event.

What are controls?

Controls are the measures put in place to decrease the likelihood or consequences from an unwanted event. They can:

  • prevent the unwanted event or reduce the loss of control of the hazard (e.g. reduce or contain energy release)
  • reduce the effects (e.g. provide shield from hazard; event has happened but emergency response and medical treatment reduce the severity and duration of consequences).