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Lighthouse Blog

The Confusion between Definitions

Recently we have noticed the confusion that can be experienced when differentiating between a ‘hazard’ and a ‘hazardous event’.  Overcoming the confusion and getting these definitions correct is extremely important when carrying out risk assessment, both paper-based and dynamic, to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees is maintained at all times whilst at work

These definitions (from IOSH) may help;

A hazard is anything with the potential to cause harm

For a hazard to cause harm, a hazardous event must happen

There must be a hazard present first before the hazardous event is able to occur.  For example, a raised paving slab is a hazard, the hazardous event would be if a pedestrian was to trip on the raised paving slab

Hopefully this will help when trying to differentiate between the two

Is it a legal requirement for a risk assessment to be carried out for any hazardous work activity or task.  Failure to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment could mean prosecution by the HSE for failure to safeguard employees appropriately.

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