- A hazard is the potential of a substance, activity or process to cause harm. Hazards take many forms including, for example, chemicals, electricity and working from a ladder.
- A risk is the likelihood of a substance, activity or process to cause harm. A risk can be reduced and the hazard controlled by good management.
Basic definitions related to occupational health and safety
Some basic and powerful definitions related to occupational health and safety are the following:
Related to the protection of the bodies and minds of people from illness resulting from the materials, processes or procedures used in the workplace.
Related to the protection of people from physical injury. The borderline between health and safety is ill-defined and the two words are normally used together to indicate concern for the physical and mental well-being of the individual at the place of work.
Related to the provision of facilities to maintain the health and well-being of individuals at the workplace. Welfare facilities include washing and sanitation arrangements, the provision of drinking water, heating, lighting, eating and rest rooms. First aid arrangements are also considered as welfare facilities.
Occupational or work-related ill-health
Is concerned with those illnesses or physical and mental disorders that are either caused or triggered by workplace activities. Such conditions may be induced by the particular work activity of the individual or by activities of others in the workplace. The time interval between exposure and the onset of the illness may be short or long.
Related to the arrangements to cover those activities in the workplace which affect the environment and, possibly, the health and safety of employees and others.
Defined as any unplanned event that results in injury or ill health of people, or damage or loss to property, plant, materials or the environment or a loss of a business opportunity.
Is any incident that could have resulted in an accident.
It’s a near miss which could have led to serious injury or loss of life.
Hazard and risk
The difference between hazard and risk
It is very important to distinguish between a hazard and a risk – the two terms are often confused and activities such as construction work are called high risk when they are high hazard. Although the hazard will continue to be high, the risks will be reduced when controls are implemented.
The residual risk
The level of risk remaining when controls have been adopted is known as the residual risk. There should only be high residual risk where there is poor health and safety management and inadequate control measures.