Hazard Assessment vs Risk Assessment

Hazard Assessment vs Risk Assessment

You may have heard the terms hazard assessment and risk assessment floating around, especially when you are going through safety training or getting certified for certain skills. These processes work in tandem but are not interchangeable. Both are separate processes that are crucial to keeping your workplace safe, and therefore, up to efficiency, too! You will need to perform both hazard and risk assessments to get a clear picture of what sorts of dangers are lurking on your job. Read on to learn more.

What Is Hazard?

In order to fully understand the differences between hazard and risk assessment, you will first need to understand the definitions of hazard and risk themselves. A hazard is essentially something that could cause harm, so a work hazard is something that can potentially cause harm to the workers– for instance, faulty electrical equipment or damaged scaffolding. 


Hazards can be further broken down into two main categories– acute and chronic hazards. Acute hazards refer to hazards that create obvious problems and would impact a worker immediately, such as a liquid spill that could cause someone to slip and hurt themselves. Chronic hazards, however, refer to hazards that are not instantly apparent and could be hidden– sometimes not arising until some time has passed. An example of this could be the gradual decline in a piece of machinery that could therefore lead to an accident or injury. 

What Is Risk?

On the other hand, risk is defined as the degree of likelihood that harm will be caused, which is related to the workers’ exposure to a hazard. Essentially, the risk is how likely the hazard is to cause harm to a person. It is important to not only be aware of the hazards popping up in your workplace but of the risks associated with them, too, so that you can properly assess the working environment for any dangers and prevent accidents from occurring in the first place. 

Hazard Assessment vs Risk Assessment

Now that you understand hazard and risk, you should b e aware of the processes of hazard and risk assessment. These are how you are able to determine the hazards and risks of a particular workplace or job site. 

How Do You Perform a Hazard Assessment?

Both hazard and risk assessments are non-negotiable parts of the job– they should be done regularly and routinely to ensure that any new risks are properly dealt with. Luckily, performing a hazard assessment is fairly straightforward. You can break a job down into smaller tasks that are performed while doing the said job, and then evaluate and analyze the hazards of each task. For example, do workers need to use electrical equipment to complete a task? If so, faulty equipment or water spillage near outlets and wires can be a hazard. Power cords can also pose a tripping hazard! Even scenarios that do not seem very likely should be recorded and dealt with appropriately to cover all of your bases.


If this still seems overwhelming to you, there are many apps, software, and templates for hazard assessments to make sure that you are conducting them properly and nothing slips through the cracks.

How Do You Perform a Risk Assessment?

To perform a risk assessment, you will need to have first gone through the process of performing a hazard assessment. Then, you will have identified any of the potential hazards on your job site and can continue to assess these hazards for risk. It is recommended that you have a safety professional do this, as they will have additional knowledge and know-how that you may not have. You will want to isolate each hazard and analyze it individually to understand the likelihood of each hazard causing an accident or injury on the job.


As mentioned above, there are apps and software that you can use for risk or hazard assessments. Many of these will allow you to input your hazard assessment data and will assist you in performing a risk assessment based on that. 

What Next?

You may be wondering what you are supposed to do with the data from your hazard and risk assessments, now that you have it. This information should inform your decisions on how to move forward in the workplace and deal with the hazards. Control measures should be put into place to mitigate each hazard. For example, if you identified broken or faulty machinery as a hazard, you will want to bring in a mechanic to fix it. If it is in rough shape and cannot be tuned up, you may need to look into acquiring a replacement for the piece of equipment in order to prevent any accidents from occurring. 


A safety professional can be a great resource for you if you are planning out your control measures– you do not have to make all of these decisions alone! Once you have your data, you can analyze it yourself, or you can choose to bring it to a safety professional or safety consultant to help map out the best control measures for you and your employees. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between hazard and risk?

When comparing the terms hazard and risk, hazard refers to something that has the potential to cause harm– like a damaged ladder on a job site. Risk, however, refers to the likelihood of this harm taking place based on exposure to the hazard. 

What is hazard assessment?

Hazard assessment is a process that is used to identify, assess, and control workplace hazards, as well as the risks to employee health and safety. It is a crucial part of the safety culture and safety management system of a company.

Is risk assessment the same as HACCP?

HACCP is a qualitative risk assessment tool. While it can be used for risk assessment, it is not necessarily the same thing as risk assessment. Instead, it is an approach that originated in the food industry and was designed to assess biological, physical, and chemical hazards.