What is a Hazard?
When we refer to hazards in relation to occupational safety and health the most commonly used definition is ‘A Hazard is a potential source of harm or adverse health effect on a person or persons’.
The terms Hazard and Risk are often used interchangeably but this simple example explains the difference between the two.
If there was a spill of water in a room then that water would present a slipping hazard to persons passing through it. If access to that area was prevented by a physical barrier then the hazard would remain though the risk would be minimised.
What is Risk?
When we refer to risk in relation to occupational safety and health the most commonly used definition is ‘risk is the likelihood that a person may be harmed or suffers adverse health effects if exposed to a hazard.’
The level of risk is often categorised upon the potential harm or adverse health effect that the hazard may cause, the number of times persons are exposed and the number of persons exposed. For example exposure to airborne asbestos fibres will always be classified as high because a single exposure may cause potentially fatal lung disease, whereas the risk associated with using a display screen for a short period could be considered to be very low as the potential harm or adverse health effects are minimal.
Employers are required to do all that is reasonably practicable to minimise the risk of injury. In selecting controls measure in minimising risk the following hierarchy is adopted
- Engineering, enclosure, guarding, ventilation
- Safe systems of work, supervision, training
- Provision of Personal Protective Equipment
The managers of a functional area must be part of the process of determining the suitable control measure for an identified hazard. Where the risk cannot be reduced to acceptable levels and finance is not available to implement appropriate controls, the Head of School shall require the activity to cease or have the area closed. Where a hazard persists and risk mitigation depends on specific control measures being implemented the work activity must be routinely monitored by the Head of School to ensure control measures are being implemented and are effective.