Difference Between Hazard and Risk

Hazard vs Risk

It is a common experience that some words are considered to synonyms of each other as described in the dictionary whereas in real life they are used is different context. This is where knowing the right usage of words in. It is essential for everyone to know which word is suitable for which situation. A common example is risk and hazard. Despite the fact that they are declared as synonym, the health departments take these two words differently as they have a different meaning.


In a precise manner, a hazard is considered to be anything which can cause harm. Some of the examples of hazards may include chemicals, electricity, a bully work or stress etc.

Generally, a hazard is said to be present when there is an object or a situation present which may have an adverse effect on the surrounding. There can be other hazards like, an explosion, leakage of toxic gas etc.


Risk can be taken as chance or a probability that harm may occur. There are certain situations and the circumstances and sometimes the severity of the harm is passed as a statement. Risk can be considered as negligible or can be high even. We can see that we are surrounded by risks in our everyday lives. As rational beings, we are always assessing the level of risk either consciously and unconsciously. While we are thinking to cross a highway, how to do family care and whether to eat healthy food or not we are basically making assessment about the possible hazards involved and at the same time assess the risk associated with each action we may take.

Difference between Hazard and Risk

There is a fine line between the risk and hazard and thus you have to be very cautious when using these two words. Some experts claim that if the factors remain the same in the surrounding, the risk associated with each action is proportional to the associated hazard. However, in reality, the factors are never the same. The difference between the two words can be further highlighted by considering some examples of our daily lives.

Potassium Dichromate falls in the category of the toxic chemicals and is used to analyze the presence of alcohol in breath. The chemical is properly covered and sealed. Thus, the chemical is highly hazardous; the usage of this substance does not make it risky.

Similarly, many people do not consider flour to be hazardous substance at all. However, if a baker is exposed to airborne flour over a long period of time; he may become the victim of diseases like rhinitis, dermatitis or even asthma. Such types of diseases have severe effect on the lungs, nose and skin and can become life threatening as well. Thus there is risk involved.


Overall, in order for some harm to occur or for the risk to be present, there must be the presence of hazard and above all the exposure to that hazard. If they do not exist together, there will be no risk.