What Is Meant by the Terms Hazard and Risk?


Quick Answer

A hazard is a source of damage, danger or harm that may happen to someone or something in certain situations; risk is the probability that a person may be harmed if exposed to a certain potentially dangerous situation. Companies often use a risk assessment to keep employees and customers safe.

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Full Answer

These assessments include identifying possible hazards, evaluating the risk associated with those hazards, and finding solutions to eliminate the hazard. When defining risk, the factors that influence how much risk is involved include how much a person is exposed to a hazardous condition, chemical or thing; how the person is exposed to the dangerous condition; and how bad the effects are under the overall condition of the exposure.

Hazards are classified in a few different ways. A biological hazard is a virus, insect, animal, plant, bird or human that can cause damage do another. A chemical hazard is dependent upon the toxic, physical and chemical property of the chemical. An ergonomic hazard is an improper set-up of a workstation, or repetitive movements. A physical hazard is noise, radiation or magnetic fields. A psychosocial hazard is violence or stress, and a safety hazard is equipment breakdowns or malfunctions, or slipping and tripping hazards.

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