Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Hazard and Risk

Hazard” vs “Risk”

It may be difficult for some to discern between a hazard and a risk. No wonder, these terms have been mistakenly used interchangeably. But you can’t really put the blame on them as some dictionaries define “hazard” as “a form of risk.” Nevertheless, in the realm of occupational safety and health, a hazard is something that can cause probable damage, ill health, or harm to somebody or something else. In some contexts, “hazard” may even be regarded as the actual harm done or the effect of the hazard rather than the actual hazard itself. A good example is the condition pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) wherein many clinicians consider it as a health hazard despite knowing that it is the TB-inducing bacterium which is the actual hazard (the hazardous agent).

Using the first definition of “hazard,” one can identify the following as some of the most common hazards in the work area. Knives (the hazard) can cause cuts. Benzene is a substance that can cause leukemia. Obviously, electricity is something that can induce shock or electrocution. Also, a wet floor is a hazard that can lead to slips and falls.

“Risk,” on the contrary, is just a form of probability or chance that an individual will experience harm or unwanted health effects when exposed to a certain hazard. This includes instances where there may be loss of equipment or property.

An example of describing a risk is when you say that a person working in a hospital medical ward is ten times more likely to have PTB than someone who works at home online based. Risk can also be expressed as a number like when you say one out of ten nurses working in the ward is more likely to develop PTB given that he was not able to complete his vaccination against such a disease. In this sense, it is safe to say that a risk is the likelihood of getting a disease while a hazard is the likely consequence.

There are also some factors that can affect the risk. First is how long an individual got exposed to a hazard (the length of exposure). Second is how the individual got exposed (the manner or route of exposure i.e. through skin contact). And last is how severe the effects are under situations of being exposed.

Summary:

1.“Hazard” is something that can probably cause some damage or harm. “Risk” is just a probability of getting harmed or experiencing danger.
2.A hazard can also pertain to the actual harm done or the effect generated by something else.
3.A hazard can be a physical object, a setting, or a situation that can cause harm. A risk can be expressed in numbers like one out of ten people are more at risk of getting this type of illness.
4.“Risk” can be augmented or mitigated by certain risk factors like the length of exposure, route of exposure, among others.


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