Hazard, Risk, Risk assessment – Health & Safety at work

What is the hazard?

A hazard is a source of harm, damage or adverse health effects on something or someone.

What is the risk?

Risk is the likelihood that a person will be harmed or experience on adverse health effects if exposed to a hazard.

As you can see there is  a difference between theese definitions althought both Hazard and Risk are often used interchangeably.

Examples of hazard

Workplace hazardExample of hazardExample of harm caused
Behaviourintimidationfear, scare, anxiety, cardiovascular diseases, depression
Thingstacked boxes, file cabinets, furniturebump, bruise, abrasions
Source of Energyelectricityelectrocution, shock
Conditionexposed power cables, boxes, slippery floorsslips, trips, falls
SubstancesSolventsBreathing problems, skin irritation, circulatory diseases, digestive diseases, eye problems
processweldingElectrick shock, hearing loss, metal fume fever

Hazard can be classified in categories:

– physical hazards: electrical exposure, working from heights, excessive noise, extremes of temperature, ionizing or non-ionizing radiation, unguarded machinery,

– mechanical hazards: created by machinery (usually moving parts),

– biological hazards: bacteria, viruses, fungus,

– chemical hazards: during the time worker is exposed to chemicals. They can cause illness, skin irritation, even breathing problems,

– ergonomic hazards: improper set up of workstation, repetitive movements,

– psychosocial hazards: stress, cardiovascular diseases.


There are factors that influence the risk of injury, ill health, e.g.

– frequency of exposure and time of contact,

– the nature of exposed (skin contact, inhalation),

– severity of effect (diseases of heart and nervous system, dermal irritation, cancer).


What is a Risk Assessment?

Risk Assessment is the proces that should include:

– hazard identification,

– both risk analysis and risk evaluation,

– establish procedures and rules to eliminate the hazard or control the risk if hazard can not be eliminated.


Possible adverse health effects:

– diseases,

– genetic effects,

– reduction in lenght and quality of life,

-worsening mental health,

– bodily injury.