REID OUR BLOG

Hazards vs Risks – What’s the Difference?

We live in a world full of hazards that have the potential for causing injuries, damage to property, loss of materials, or reduce our ability to perform. The key word is potential for hazards. We hardly recognize many significant hazards because we are so used to accepting them in our daily activities. I’ll use driving a vehicle as an example, but the application of these principles can be used in everything we do.

Driving has multiple hazards which can change with location, roadway type, vehicle type, driver ability, environmental conditions and even time of day. We live with those hazards and try to control what we can. We also tolerate the aspects we can’t control, such as the actions of other drivers. But what can we do about hazardous conditions, like snow and ice on the road? We can’t control that… or can we?

Calculating the Risk

It is not uncommon to hear people in Seattle say it’s too risky to drive in the snow. So, is snow and ice on the road a hazard or is it a risk? What’s the difference?  To begin, snow is the condition that has potential consequences, and that is the hazard.  Snow and ice reduce tire traction leading to reduced operator control.  Some possible outcomes (consequences) of reduced control are sliding off the road, or into other cars causing damage and injury. Risk is the probability and the severity of those outcomes.

It is also true that the risks are either acceptable to you, or not. It’s a choice. People in colder climates drive in snowy conditions all the time, mostly without consequence but in Seattle in similar conditions many will decide stay home because they do not have that confidence in their experience, ability, or vehicle. How do you make that choice?

Hazard or Risk? What about Consequence?

In our modern usage the words Hazards and Risk have almost become synonymous. But there is a distinction that we should be aware of and knowing the difference can help bring clarity to your decision making.

  • Hazard – Condition or object with the potential of causing injuries to personnel, damage to equipment or structures, loss of material, or reduction of ability to perform a prescribed function
  • Consequence – Potential outcome(s) of the hazard
  • Risk – The assessment, expressed in terms of predicted probability and severity, of the consequence(s) of a hazard taking the worst foreseeable situation.
    • Probability is the likelihood that an unsafe event or condition might occur. In many ways this can be intuitive, as the probability of sliding off the road is higher during snow and ice conditions than it is when the road is dry.
    • Severity is the possible effect of the unsafe condition in a worst foreseeable situation. If your drive to work is relatively flat and straight the severity of sliding off the road may lead to a damaged fender, wounded pride and some insurance hassles. If your drive to work is along a windy steep slope above an ice filled river, the outcome severity of sliding off the road may be catastrophic.

A single Hazard (Snow on the Road) can have multiple Consequences, (Slide off the road, collision with another car, getting stuck) and each potential Consequence can have multiple Risks associated with it as well. Risks may be monetary (insurance rates, damage repairs, medical bills), Risks may be reputation (bad driver in snow, lack of trust), Risks may be health (injuries, recovery, death), or Risks may be the ability to continue operations after the fact, especially by definition following a catastrophic event.

The Risk of driving to work in the snow is the combination of likelihood and severity. Either that risk is acceptable to you, or it is not.  Some think of risk as a purely economic decision.  Does the cost of a hazard’s consequences when combined with the likelihood and severity outweigh the gain to be found by accepting the risk?

Anyone who has ever been a teenager understands making poor decisions because they don’t take a moment to first evaluate the potential adverse outcomes. My parents called it a lack of impulse control, and I was no exception. The lack of judgement, experience, and fore-thought make being a teenager a hazard in itself.  What they lack are the tools for making better decisions.

A Decision Chart

A Risk Matrix chart can be that tool.  It can help to visualize the concept of Risk and provide a scoring system to understand the level of Risk involved with every day activities.

If the Risk score is anywhere in the Red, it wouldn’t be prudent to continue until additional measures and controls can be in place to reduce the severity and probability to acceptable levels. If the Risk score is in the yellow, you may continue with the moderate risk, but further controls and monitoring would be advisable. If conditions worsen, or controls aren’t effective, the risk may move back up to the red zone.  If the Risk score is in the green the risk level is acceptable and you can proceed as planned. That’s not to say that something bad won’t happen, because we can never eliminate bad outcomes, but if it goes south on you the consequences would most likely be acceptable. The potential gains outweigh the risk involved and the existing controls and mitigations are sufficient to keep the risk manageable.

Whenever you create a control to mitigate a risk to an acceptable level there is a cost. If you’re willing to drive in the snow, but want to reduce the risk of losing traction, you might decide to put chains on your tires. Anytime you introduce a control to reduce risk there is a cost, but the costs should be as low as reasonably possible. Chains alone won’t guarantee you arrive at your destination in a snow storm, but with a moment of consideration for the conditions, hazards, and risks involved you’ll improve the chance of surviving the day intact. And sometimes the prudent choice is just not to do anything until conditions outside of your control improve.

Safety Decision-Making

Improving safety, no matter what the task or situation, involves systematic approach of identifying the hazards, anticipating potential consequences, assessing the probability and severity to determine your Risk Score, and weighing that against your appetite to accept that risk.  And that’s the difference. A hazard is the condition that exists. A hazard has potential consequences. The Risk is the probability and severity of the worst foreseeable consequences.  What you do with that information is determined by your risk appetite.

59 Comments

  1. wireless communication systems

    Save on great synchronized clock system currently currently available and in stock in addition on sale get it today only!

    Reply
  2. parent classes online

    Buy npw the highest quality parenting programs that are currently available in addition at the best price. Start today!

    Reply
  3. chatbots and marketing

    Get Services From the wonderful google chatbot currently now available and on sale today!

    Reply
  4. increase flame height gas fire pit

    Get a design for a top Logs for gas fire pit that are available and now in stock and at a great price today and tommorrow only!

    Reply
  5. fire glass vs lava rock

    Get a design for a top Warming trends fire pit that is available and in stock in addition at a great price today and tommorrow only!

    Reply
  6. parenting class

    Buy npw the highest quality Confident Parenting you can get and currently available in addition at the best price. Start today!

    Reply
  7. Warming trends fire pit

    Get a design for an amazing Natural gas fire pit burners currently available and in stock in addition reasonably priced today and tommorrow only!

    Reply
  8. parenting styles

    See now the highest quality parent coaches that are currently available plus on sale. Start today!

    Reply
  9. public address transmitters

    locate high quality school public address system currently currently available and in stock in addition on sale get it today only!

    Reply
  10. outdoor clocks for schools

    Save on high quality pa speakers that’s currently available and now in stock in addition at the best price get it today only!

    Reply
  11. online parenting resource

    Finally, get now the highest quality Confident Parenting that are currently available and on sale. Start today!

    Reply
  12. chatbot

    Get service from the fantastic what is a chatbot that’s currently available in addition on sale today!

    Reply
  13. gas fire pit insert

    Get parts for a top Warming trends fire pit that are available and in stock and at a great price today and tommorrow only!

    Reply
  14. bot marketing

    Get Services From the wonderful ai chatbot currently currently available in addition at the best price today!

    Reply
  15. Visit

    Get service from the amazing internet bot currently now available in addition at the best price today!

    Reply
  16. synchronized wireless time systems

    locate profesional wireless pa speakers that are currently available and in stock in addition at great prices get it today only!

    Reply
  17. parent coaching australia

    Buy npw professional online parenting classes that are currently available and at the best price. Start today!

    Reply
  18. synchronized wireless clocks

    Save on great public announcement speakers currently currently available and in stock in addition reasonably priced get it today only!

    Reply
  19. Montana Fire Pits

    Get a design for the best high quality fire pits that is available and in stock in addition at a great price today and tommorrow only!

    Reply
  20. life coaching for kids

    Finally, get now the highest quality parent coaching models you can get, and available now and reasonably priced. Start today!

    Reply
  21. facebook chatbot

    Contract the fantastic chatbots agency that is now available and on sale today!

    Reply
  22. parenting classes

    Buy npw the highest quality parent classes online you can get, and available now and reasonably priced. Start today!

    Reply
  23. build your own fire pit

    Get an amazing gas fire pit burners currently available and in stock and at great prices today and tommorrow only!

    Reply
  24. outdoor fire pit insert

    Get the best crossfire brass burner that are available and in stock in addition at a great price today and tommorrow only!

    Reply
  25. Best digital clocks

    Save on great bell systems that are currently available and in stock in addition at the best price get it today only!

    Reply
  26. synchronized wireless clocks

    Save on great pa system for school that’s currently available and now in stock in addition reasonably priced get it today only!

    Reply
  27. parent coaching models

    See now the highest quality parenting programs you can get, and available now and at the best price. Start today!

    Reply
  28. Confident Parenting

    Finally, get now the highest quality parent coaching models you can get and currently available now plus reasonably priced. Start today!

    Reply
  29. bot

    Get Services From the fantastic chatbots marketing services currently now available and at the best price today!

    Reply
  30. chatbot marketing agency

    Get Services From the wonderful chatbots agency that’s now available and reasonably priced today!

    Reply
  31. Montana Fire Pits

    Get a design for a top Click Here currently available and in stock in addition at the best price today and tommorrow only!

    Reply
  32. chatbot trends

    Get Services From the fantastic chatbot technology currently now available in addition reasonably priced today!

    Reply
  33. parent coach professionals

    Finally, get now professional online parenting course australia you can get and currently available now in addition at great prices. Start today!

    Reply
  34. outdoor clocks for schools

    Save on high quality School bell system that are currently available and in stock and at great prices get it today only!

    Reply
  35. clocks for schools

    Get profesional School bell system that’s currently available and now in stock and at the best price get it today only!

    Reply
  36. pit burners

    Get a design for a top Warming trends fire pit currently available and in stock in addition on sale today and tommorrow only!

    Reply
  37. clocks for businesses

    Buy great School bell system that are currently available and in stock in addition at great prices get it today only!

    Reply
  38. life coaches for teens

    Finally, get now the highest quality parent coaching models that are currently available now plus reasonably priced. Start today!

    Reply
  39. See All

    Get a design for a top gas fire pit replacement logs that are available and now in stock and on sale today and tommorrow only!

    Reply
  40. google chatbots

    Get service from the wonderful chatbots that is now available in addition on sale today!

    Reply
  41. how to build a natural gas fire pit

    Get parts for the best Warming trends fire pits that’s available and in stock and at the best price today and tommorrow only!

    Reply
  42. parenting books

    Finally, get now professional parent coaching intake form that are currently available now plus at the best price. Start today!

    Reply
  43. parent classes online

    See now professional parent coach you can get and currently available now in addition at the best price. Start today!

    Reply
  44. FCC wireless license

    Buy profesional wireless public address system that’s currently available and in stock in addition at great prices get it today only!

    Reply
  45. Check It Out Here

    Get great pa system for school that are currently available and in stock in addition at the best price get it today only!

    Reply
  46. chatbot

    Contract the wonderful chat bots that is now available and reasonably priced today!

    Reply
  47. google chatbot

    Contract the amazing bot market that is currently available in addition at great prices today!

    Reply
  48. what is a chatbot

    Get Services From the fantastic social media marketing bots currently now available in addition at the best price today!

    Reply
  49. build your own fire pit

    Get the best crossfire brass burner currently available and now in stock and on sale today and tommorrow only!

    Reply
  50. Best digital clocks

    locate great School bell system currently currently available and in stock and at the best price get it today only!

    Reply
  51. burner for fire pit

    Get a design for the best View More that’s available and in stock and reasonably priced today and tommorrow only!

    Reply
  52. outsource seo services

    Start now with the professional search ranking services that’s available in addition guaranteed today!

    Reply
  53. synchronized wireless clocks for sale

    Buy high quality School bell system that are currently available and in stock in addition currently available get it today only!

    Reply
  54. chatbot marketing agency

    Contract the fantastic chatbot technology that is currently available in addition reasonably priced today!

    Reply
  55. build your own fire pit

    Get a design for an amazing Montana Fire Pits that is available and in stock and currently available today and tommorrow only!

    Reply
  56. best seo outsourcing company

    Start now with the top rated internet marketing firm that is available in addition guaranteed today!

    Reply
  57. outsourcing seo

    Start now with the professional search ranking expert currently available and a great value today!

    Reply
  58. seo services packages

    Start now with the professional business marketing currently available and guaranteed today!

    Reply
  59. get more info

    locate great school clock and bell systems that is currently available and in stock and reasonably priced get it today only!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *