The difference between risk and danger

2 weeks ago

The terms risk and hazard are often confused, but they are two different concepts that should not be confused or used in any way.


Hazard is defined as “A property inherent in products, equipment, processes… that can cause damage.” This means that there are products, equipment, processes that are hazardous and others that are not, with different levels in between. In the case of a product, the hazard is part of the product’s properties. For example, gasoline is flammable, so it can easily catch fire and cause a fire: gasoline is dangerous. Similarly, an asteroid is dangerous, plutonium is dangerous, a knife is dangerous.

The difference between risk and danger

It’s a pretty simple concept: an object, a situation, a substance is dangerous if it can cause harm. Needless to say, everything is dangerous under this definition. But we can assume that we are talking about the common use of an object. You can kill someone with a pen, but in that case the danger comes not from the pen, but from the person trying to kill you with it.

An open fireplace, on the other hand, is inherently dangerous: no one is safe from a coal falling on the floor and causing a fire. Thus, the user must be aware of this danger and take measures to prevent it: place a bucket of water nearby, place a fire extinguisher nearby, or use the fireplace only under constant supervision. Now, what is the likelihood that a coal will jump out of the chimney? That’s the concept of risk.