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Assessing the Risks

The difference between Hazard and Risk

In everyday use of language we often use hazard and risk to mean the same thing.   When used in the context of Health & Safety, they have the following meanings:

Hazard - The outcome of the potential accident - for instance, a broken arm, a fire or the release of toxic material

Risk - An assessment of the consequences of the accident occuring, involving consideration of the severity of the hazard and the likelihood of it occurring.

When assessing the risk of an accident, we therefore have to judge both the severity and likelihood of an accident. We assess both on a scale of 1 to 5, and the assessed risk is given by multiplying the two numbers together.

Severity Examples
1 - Superficial Minor cuts or bruising; Minimal damage to property;
Localised envirnmental impact
2 - Minor First aid treatment only; Minor property damage;
On-site environmental impact
3 - Serious Medical treatment required; Property damage confined to workspace;
Off-site environmental impact
4 - Major Hospitalisation, Life changing injury or health effects;
Serious damage extending beyond workspace;
Regional environmental impact
5 - Extreme Death, Life-changing injuries or health effects (multiple persons);
Damage affecting whole building;
National environmental impact

Assessing Severity

Likelihood Meaning
1 - Unlikely Requires a combination of events in order to take place
2 - Possible May occur, but only rarely
3 - Likely May occur frequently
4 - Very Likely Likely to occur in many circumstances
5 - Highly Likely Almost inevitable