Difference Between Hazard and Risk

Main Difference – Hazard vs Risk

Hazard and risk are two terms that are related to safety and security. Both these words are associated with danger or harm to your health or life.  Although many people assume these words to have the same meaning, there is a difference between hazard and risk, especially in the context of occupational safety. Hazard is a source of potential damage or something that can cause harm to a person. Risk is the chance of a person being hurt when exposed to a hazard. This is the key difference between hazard and risk.

This article explains,

1. What is a Hazard
     – Definition, Features, Examples
2. What is a Risk
     – Definition, Features, Examples
3. What is the difference between Hazard and RiskDifference Between Hazard and Risk - Comparison Summary

What is a Hazard

The term hazard is often defined as a risk or danger in many dictionaries. While this word gives this meaning in some situations, it has a specific meaning in the context of occupational safety and health. In occupational safety, hazard can refer to a source of potential damage; in simple words, this refers to something that can cause harm to a person. A hazard can cause harm or adverse health effects to a person. For example, chemicals used in an industry can be a hazard to the workers since it can cause adverse health effects; similarly, loose electric cables can also become a hazard. The danger or the harm can either be immediate or long-term. For instance, long-term exposure to chemicals will increase the risk of contracting diseases like cancer; at the same time, chemicals like strong acids can also cause immediate injury.

Hazards in a workplace can take a variety of forms such as chemicals, electricity, machines, different processes, materials and other substances. Even if a simple condition or material can become a hazard. For example, someone accidentally spilling water on the floor can become a hazard since there is a possibility of someone slipping and falling in that place.

Main Difference - Hazard vs Risk

What is a Risk

Risk refers to the chance or possibility of suffering loss or harm. In occupational safety or workplace safety, risk refers to the probability that harm or injury might occur when you are exposed to a hazard. In this case, risk and hazard are interconnected. In other words, it is the likelihood of worker getting harmed in the workplace. Risk can also refer to the loss of property or equipment.

Risks can be minimised if they are identified beforehand. If we go back to the example of the slippery floor if someone identifies the risk it poses and restricts the access to that area with a physical barrier, the risk can be minimised; however, the hazard remains the same.

Risk Assessment

The risk can be minimised by following the steps below.

  1. Identifying the hazards
  2. Evaluating the risk associated with hazard
  3. Determining the appropriate ways to eliminate or control the risk

Difference Between Hazard and Risk

Difference Between Hazard and Risk


Hazard: Hazard refers to a source of potential harm or danger.

Risk: Risk refers to the possibility that harm or injury might occur when exposed to a hazard.


Hazard: Different elements such as chemicals, excessive noise, fumes, electricity, etc. act as hazards in a workplace.

Risk: Risk is the possibility of getting harmed after being exposed to chemicals, noise, fumes, etc.


Hazard: Hazard may remain the same even if the risk is minimised.

Risk: It is important to identify the hazard, the potential harm it can cause in order to eliminate risk.

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About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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