Risk Vs Hazard Vs Danger

Warning signs are visible everywhere. Two of the very common words that can be found in these warning signs are “hazard” and “danger” While both refer to a risk or threat, they are two distinct words. Often dictionaries do not give specific definitions for the words “Risk, Hazard, and Danger” That’s why many people use the terms Risk, Hazard, and Danger interchangeably.


Risk is the chance or probability that a person will be harmed or experience an adverse health effect if exposed to a hazard. It may also apply to situations with property or equipment loss, or harmful effects on the environment.

Factors that influence the degree or likelihood of risk are the nature of the exposure how the person is exposed and the severity of the effect. 

Likelihood x Severity = Risk          


The most common definition of Hazard in context with workplace health and safety is: A hazard is any source of potential damage, harm, or adverse health effects on something or someone. 

Hazards are classified based only on the potential to harm health. Hazardous substances may cause immediate or long-term health effects. A hazard may also be dormant wherein the circumstance still has the potential to be hazardous but still does not affect people, property, or the environment. Once a harmful incident has occurred, it is an active hazard and would create an emergency.



The danger is exposure or liability to harm or injury, risk, or peril/ability to harm someone’s dominion or power to harm or penalize / an instance or cause of peril or menace. Danger may be any conditions or practices in any place which are such that a risk exists which could reasonably be expected to cause death or serious physical harm. 

Risk Vs Hazard

  • The two terms go hand in hand. Without a hazard, there is no risk. But they are different, a hazard is something that could harm you, and a risk is the chance of that harm happening.

For example: the risks and hazards of smoking cigarettes could be expressed as:

Risk- cigarette smokers are 12 times more likely to die of lung cancer than non-smokers.

Hazard – agent responsible i.e. smoking.

  • The risks are expressed as a probability or likelihood of developing a disease or getting injured, Whereas hazard refers to the agent responsible

Hazard Vs Risk                       

  • If you carry out a risk assessment, you need to identify the hazards before you can assess the risks. At work, we need to identify hazards when we are carrying out a risk assessment, which is a legal requirement.
  • Hazards are not risks themselves, but they create risks. If you have stairs, they are a hazard.

You can’t reduce the hazard – removing the stairs isn’t possible and would create another problem (no way up or down!). But you can reduce the risk – handrails, non-slip treads, suitable flooring, removing trip hazards etc.

The stairs are a hazard. The risk is that someone could fall.

Risk Vs Danger

The difference between the concept of danger and the concept of risk involves opportunity. 

  • The danger is exposure to harm. Risk is an exposure to harm that may provide an advantage if successfully overcome.
  • Danger and Risk are two words that are often confused when strictly speaking, there is a difference between the two words. The word danger is used in the sense of ‘catastrophe’ or ‘peril.’ On the other hand, the word risk is used in the sense of ‘chance.’ They both carry negative meanings with them. 
  • Synonyms for danger as peril, jeopardy, hazard, etc.  Synonyms for risk are jeopardy, hazard, peril, threat, etc.
  • The antonym for danger is safety while the antonym for risk is safety and impossibility.


Hazard Vs Danger

  • hazard is a condition that presents a risk or threat to the environment as well as an individual’s life, property, or health.

It is something that does not exist but is a possibility that an individual will fall victim to an injury or misfortune. It is an unpredictable and yet unknown experience or occurrence that may result in pain, illness, loss, or injury. 

Dangers are classified according to their immediate physical or chemical effects, such as fire, explosion, corrosion, and poisoning, affecting the property, the environment, or people. A dangerous incident can be serious, but it can also be as mild as the danger of cutting your finger when slicing onions.

  • “Hazard” is usually used to refer to something that is extremely serious or very damaging. It is used in warning signs to indicate the severity of the situation. It is used to refer to dangers that are bigger and more serious while “danger” is used to generally refer to risky situations whether big or small.
  • Hazardous substances and dangerous goods are covered by separate legislation, each focussing on controlling the different risks associated with them. 

  • Hazards can be natural such as those posed by volcanoes and tornadoes; man-made such as activities like flying or engaging in extreme sports; or the result of breaking or violating boundaries. The danger is the potential harm from all these and any other activities.

Risk Vs Hazard Vs Danger

  • Risk is “the possibility that something bad or unpleasant (such as injury or a loss) will happen.” 

A hazard is “a potential source of harm or danger.” 

The danger is “something that may cause injury or harm”


  • The term risk is derived from the Greek “ριζα” (“rhíza”) meaning “root”

The term hazard comes from the Old French word “hasard” which means “dice game”. 

On the other hand, the term danger comes from the Middle English word “danger” which means “power or peril to cause harm”

  • The risk is assessed based on the severity and the likelihood of harm occurring. A risk may be high or low taking into account these two factors. The risk level is ranging from very unlikely to highly likely. 

A hazard is a dangerous phenomenon, substance, human activity, or condition. It may cause loss of life, injury or other health impacts, property damage, loss of livelihoods and services, social and economic disruption, or environmental damage.

Danger is a situation where an individual is susceptible to harm or one wherein exposed or put at risk. It may or may not be something that is evident or known.

Understanding the difference between a Risk, a Hazard, and a Danger is an important part not only to manage workplace safety but to manage safety in every walk of life for everyone. 

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Tag: Health & Safety   Health & Safety Training

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