Understanding Risk Assessment Terminology;

We regularly hear people using various terms when we discuss Risk Assessment, are they trying to confuse us further? Let’s explain the most frequently used terms;
• Hazard
• Risk
• Severity
• Likelihood
• Residual Risk

Hazard; – What is a Hazard?

A Hazard is defined as “Anything with the Potential to cause Harm”

Can be;
• Articles
• Substances
• Plant or equipment
• Working environment
• Other aspects of work organisation

The 4 main groups are;

• Slips, trips, & falls, fire, tools & equipment, electricity, noise
• Micro-organisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi) insects, human & animal waste, sharps
• Liquids, dust & fibres, gases and vapours
• Designed for comfort, ease of use

Risk; What is a Risk?

A Risk is the likelihood of potential harm from that Hazard being realised.

A bottle of Bleach is a HAZARD – it has the potential to cause harm! – When you take it out of the cupboard it then becomes a RISK – it is likely to cause HARM.

A Lawn Mower is a HAZARD – it has the potential to cause harm! Only when you start to use it does it become a RISK, only then is it likely to cause HARM.


Put simply; What is the worst-case outcome?
• Death, disabling injury, severe illness?
• Major Injury or illness?
• Minor Injury or illness?


How likely is it to happen?
• Almost Certain, to
• Very Unlikely

Residual Risk;

What risk is left?

Generally assessed AFTER control measures have been implemented.