Inertia Safety Limited

Hazard and Risk


A hazard is a property that something has that gives it the ability cause harm to something (e.g. a person or the environment).  Examples of hazards are high temperature, heavy weight, a flammable liquid etc.

Identifying all of the hazards in the workplace is the first step towards managing them safely.  All significant hazards should be assessed to determine the level of risk to the workforce.


Risk is the likelihood that a hazard will be realised and cause injury (this could be an immediate injury e.g. a cut, or a long term "injury" such as cancer).  Risk therefore has two elements - likelihood and consequence.


The first is the likelihood that the harm will actually be realised and is usually discussed in terms of a frequency of the event occurring, e.g. once per week, once per year etc.  


The second element of risk is the severity.  This is a measure of impact on an individual, the environment or assets such as buildings.  Consequences can range from minor cuts and bruises to broken bones and even death.

So when we look at the risk from our examples of hazards above,the high temperature hazard could lead to a minor skin burn (severity=slight harm) once per month (likelihood=very likely), dropping a heavy weight could lead to a fractured toe (severity=moderate harm) once per five years (likelihood=likely), and the spillage of a flammable liquid could lead to a building fire (severity=extreme harm) once in the working life of an individual (likelihood=unlikely).

To find out more about risk assessment CLICK HERE

For information on safety management systems CLICK HERE