Difference Between Hazard and Risk

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: July 01, 2023


Difference Between Hazard and Risk

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We live in an utterly unpredictable world. Several circumstances are always present and outside of our control that have the potential to jeopardize our bodily, moral, or financial health. You may have witnessed sad deaths, casualties, loss of possessions, and loss of life because of natural disasters or man-made catastrophes. In the end, these forces put human life, material prosperity, and the environment in danger.

Risk vs Hazard

The word "risk" relates to the possibility of suffering loss because of a certain action or inaction, but the word "hazard" denotes something that truly carries a risk of harm.

Difference Between Hazard and Risk In Tabular Form

MeaningA scenario that is vulnerable to harm, danger, or loss is referred to as risky.A hazard is something that poses a risk of harm, damage, or loss.
What is it?Possibility of injury.Potentially harmful source
RepresentsProbabilityPhysical thing, circumstance, or setting
ExpressionIt is measurable in degrees,It can't be described in terms of degrees.

What is Risk?

The word "risk" refers to the possibility of acquiring or losing something valuable, such as one's health, wealth, reputation, environment, etc. It is the likelihood that a specific activity or period of inactivity will result in an unpleasant or adverse consequence, albeit this is not always the case. As a result, the chance of an event and its results determine the risk.

A more precise definition of risk is the possibility of a quantifiable loss, damage, injury, liability, or another bad outcome because of internal or external exposure that can be reduced through taking preventive action. It has many origins and can take many different forms.

  1. Dynamic risk, sometimes referred to as speculative risk, is a circumstance in which there is a chance of both gain and loss.
  2. Static Risk: Pure risk, also known as static risk, is a state in which there is no chance of profit and just a chance of loss or no loss.
  3. Fundamental Risk: The kind of risk that has an impact on a sizable population or the entire economy, such as inflation or natural disasters.
  4. Particular Risk: A risk that negatively impacts a single person rather than the entire economy, such as an accident, theft, etc.
  5. Risk that is dependent on a person's mental state at a given time is referred to as a subjective risk.
  6. Objective Risk: Objective risk is the proportional difference between actual loss and predicted loss.
  7. Financial Risk: A risk whose outcome may be calculated in terms of money.
  8. Non-financial Risk: This type of risk cannot be quantified in monetary terms.

History of Risk

The history of the idea of risk and how it is managed is lengthy and intricate, spanning numerous cultures and epochs. Here is a synopsis of the development of risk:

  1. Ancient Civilizations: Risk management methods date back to the Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, among other early civilizations. These civilizations were aware of the risks and ambiguities involved in trade, agriculture, and military operations. To reduce the hazards connected with economic activity, they created the first systems of contracts, insurance, and maritime regulations.
  2. Middle Ages: Risk management in the Middle Ages was mostly concerned with the maritime trade sector. Guilds and trade organizations were established to share resources and the hazards of cargo losses, piracy, and shipwrecks. With the emergence of customs like bottomry and respondentia contracts, which offered shipowners and traders financial security, marine insurance evolved during this time.
  3. The development of probability theory, which set the groundwork for a more quantitative understanding of risk, took place in the 17th and 18th centuries. The study of probability and expected value by mathematicians like Blaise Pascal and Pierre de Fermat helped progress gambling and insurance. The likelihood and effects of uncertain events were first connected with the concept of risk.
  4. Insurance and the Industrial Revolution: The 18th and 19th centuries' Industrial Revolution resulted in enormous societal transformations and the emergence of fresh risk issues. The risks linked with workplace accidents, fire dangers, and technology malfunctions grew due to the expansion of industrial operations, transportation networks, and urbanization. In order to cover these new risks, insurance companies expanded their product lines, which resulted in the development of property, liability, and workers' compensation insurance.
  5. Actuarial science and risk engineering: In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, scientists and engineers started using mathematical and statistical concepts to evaluate and control risks. The study of risk and uncertainty in finance and insurance, known as actuarial science, has become more formalized. Risk engineering is a subject that was developed to discover, analyze, and reduce hazards in engineering and industrial settings.
  6. Regulation and risk management: In the 20th century, frameworks for managing risks to public health, safety, and the environment were developed. To ensure that products are safe, workplaces are safe, and the environment is protected, regulatory bodies and standards have been put in place. Hazard identification, risk assessment, and risk communication are examples of risk management techniques that have become fundamental to many different companies and sectors.
  7. Globalization and Financial Risk: In the second half of the 20th century, global financial systems became more sophisticated and interconnected. Financial risk management became more popular, especially in the wake of important occurrences like the 1929 stock market crash and the 2008 global financial crisis. In order to handle the financial risks connected to investments, banks, and derivatives, risk models, quantitative risk analysis, and hedging methods were created.

Overall, the evolution of society's perception of risks, dangers, and the necessity for proactive actions to reduce possible losses and negative outcomes can be seen in the history of risk. As new hazards emerge and our knowledge and methods for assessing and managing them grow, the field of risk management continues to develop.

Types of Risk

Depending on numerous factors and situations, there are many categories of risk that can be identified. Here are a few typical risk categories:

Monetary Risk

  • Market Risk: The possibility of suffering losses as a result of shifts in market values, such as those in interest rates, stock prices, or currency rates.
  • Credit risk is the possibility that borrowers or counterparties will not make payments, which could result in losses for lenders or investors.
  • Liquidity Risk: The possibility of being unable to quickly buy or sell assets without having a substantial influence on price.
  • Operational risk is the possibility of suffering losses as a result of weak or unsuccessful internal procedures, controls, or human errors.

Enterprise Risk

  • The risk that comes with making business decisions, such as market competition, shifts in consumer demand, or disruptions in technology.
  • Operational Risk: The chance that regular business operations will be interrupted or rendered ineffective due to problems with the supply chain, faulty equipment, or regulatory compliance.
  • Risk of negative public opinion, scandal, or improper activity to the company’s reputation.
  • Legal and compliance risks: The possibility of infringement, litigation, or noncompliance during use.

Initiative Risk

  • Failure to fulfill project targets or requirements is known as scope danger.
  • Systematic Risk: -The opportunity that the project might also take longer than predicted to complete.
  • Cost hazard: The opportunity that the assignment will exceed its finances.
  • Technological Risk: Risk related to the challenge implementation of state-of-the-art technologies, unproven processes, or state-of-the-art structures.

Risk to Operations

  • Human hazard is the danger to humans, along with error, negligence, and willful misconduct.
  • Environmental Risk: Risk posed using environmental factors which include pollution, weather trade, or herbal failures.
  • Computer protection breaches, records loss, and different technical risks are known as technical dangers.
  • Supply chain dangers: The possibility of supply chain damage or disintegrate, because of providers, transportation, or material availability.

Danger Risk

  • Natural disaster chance is the danger posed by dangers that include earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and wildfires.
  • Risks to your private health or protection due to work accidents, publicity of unsafe substances, or risky conditions.
  • Environmental chance: The opportunity for environmental, ecological, or organic harm from pollution or human pastime.

Individual Risk

  • Risk to a person's bodily or mental health, including the possibility of illness, disease, or harm.
  • Financial Risk: The possibility of suffering personal financial setbacks such a job loss, lost investments, or unforeseen costs.
  • Personal Safety Risk: The chance of suffering harm or injury as a result of violence, accidents, or criminal activity.

What is Hazard?

By "hazard," we mean anything that has the potential to change the outcome. These have the potential to harm but do not harm or create a loss. Hazards have the power to either produce or intensify danger. The agent is the one who endangers people, things, the environment, etc.

In a nutshell, it refers to a group of circumstances that, when taken along with other environmental factors, may cause harm, liability, or any other unfavorable outcome. Three different categories of risks are outlined below:

  1. Physical Hazard: A risk that is related to one's physical health and increases the likelihood of loss.
  2. Moral hazard is the study of how human traits may have an impact on a situation's outcome. These can be biases or disloyalty, which increases the risk of losing.
  3. Morale Hazard: Morale hazard describes how an insured individual feels about his or her possessions. It is negligence that results from the existence of insurance.

History of Hazard

The idea of a hazard has been there since the beginning of time since humans have always had to deal with risks and dangers in their daily lives. Over time, scientific, technological, and sociological breakthroughs have had an impact on how hazards are understood and managed. Here is a synopsis of the development of risk:

  1. Ancient Civilizations: Natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, storms, and volcanic eruptions were the main causes of risks in ancient civilizations. These occurrences were frequently attributed to supernatural powers or the wrath of gods. Early societies, like the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, created crude forecasting and response techniques for risks, frequently relying on religious rites and sacrifices.
  2. Middle Ages: Religious beliefs and danger management were intertwined during this time period. People sought spiritual treatments to lessen the consequences of calamities like plagues, famines, and epidemics because they believed that these were divine punishments. Nevertheless, several early scientific findings and initiatives to comprehend risks appeared during this time, particularly in the realm of medicine.
  3. Renaissance and Enlightenment: These historical epochs were characterized by great advances in science and a shift toward more logical thinking. Scholars like Galileo Galilei and Leonardo da Vinci made significant advances to our understanding of risks in the natural world. The development of empirical observations and the application of the scientific method paved the way for a more organized investigation of dangers.
  4. Industrial Revolution: The 18th and 19th centuries Industrial Revolution saw incredible technological advancement but also brought up new dangers. Increased dangers of industrial accidents, fires, and pollution resulted from the fast rise of factories, mining operations, and metropolitan areas. In response, safety rules and labor laws were gradually implemented to safeguard employees and reduce industrial risks.
  5. Modern Period: In the 20th century, dangers drew intensive scientific attention and governmental intervention. Our knowledge of dangers and their causes has been substantially improved by the growth of fields including geology, meteorology, seismology, and epidemiology. Institutions for risk reduction, catastrophe response, and hazard assessment have been formed by governments and international organizations.
  6. Techniques used today: Multidisciplinary techniques integrating scientific research, technology advancements, and policy interventions are used to mitigate hazards today. To detect, evaluate, and manage risks, governments, non-governmental organizations, and international organizations collaborate. Hazard management now includes risk assessment, early warning systems, disaster preparedness, and community resilience.

Additionally, the advent of global issues like climate change has brought attention to how linked dangers are and the necessity of global cooperation. With continued research, technology breakthroughs, and lessons learned from previous catastrophes, our understanding of dangers continues to advance.

Types of Hazards

Based on their nature and place of origin, hazards can be divided into numerous categories. Here are a few typical dangers:

Natural Risks

  • Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and tsunamis are examples of geological hazards.
  • Hurricanes, tornadoes, cyclones, blizzards, floods, droughts, and heatwaves are examples of meteorological hazards.
  • Avalanches, flash floods, and riverine floods are examples of hydrological hazards.
  • Climate-related dangers including wildfires, extreme weather, and climate change are referred to as climatological dangers.
  • Disease outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics are examples of biological hazards.

Environment-related risks

  • Air contaminants like gases, particulate particles, and hazardous odors are referred to as air pollutants.
  • Water pollution is when chemicals, sewage, industrial waste, or oil spills contaminate water sources. The presence of dangerous compounds in the soil, such as pesticides or heavy metals, is referred to as soil contamination.
  • Radioactive hazards include being exposed to ionizing radiation from radioactive waste, radioactive materials, or nuclear accidents.

Technology-Related Risks

  • Chemical spills, explosions, fires, or structural problems in industrial facilities are examples of industrial accidents.
  • Accidents involving transportation include shipwrecks, derailments on trains, and disasters involving aircraft.
  • Nuclear accidents include reactor malfunctions, leaks, or meltdowns.
  • Infrastructure failures, dam breaches, or building or bridge collapses are examples of technological catastrophes.

Occupational Hazards

  • Physical risks associated with the job include exposure to noise, vibrations, extremely high or low temperatures, radiation, or poor ergonomics.
  • Exposure to harmful compounds, risky chemicals, or fumes are examples of chemical hazards.
  • Exposure to infections, viruses, bacteria, or biological waste constitutes a biological hazard.
  • Workplace stress, bullying, violence, or long hours are examples of psychosocial hazards.

Societal Risks

  • Terrorism: Violent or threatening acts intended to terrorize, injure, or upend society.
  • Riots, demonstrations, or other disputes that endanger the public's safety are considered civil unrest.
  • Hacking, data breaches, or cyber-attacks on vital infrastructure, businesses, or people are examples of cybersecurity threats.
  • Financial crises, stock market collapses, or downturns in the economy that threaten stability and livelihoods are examples of economic hazards.

Facts about Hazard

  1. A risk is a possibility for harm or danger that may result in hurt, loss, or damage.
  2. Natural disasters, technology errors, environmental issues, or human actions can all pose risks.
  3. Risks can be categorized into a variety of groups, including physical, chemical, biological, and ergonomic risks.
  4. Risk management and accident or disaster prevention depend heavily on the identification and assessment of hazards.
  5. Hazards can be found in a variety of places, including homes, businesses, public places, and the outdoors.
  6. Because it can be challenging to predict natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes with accuracy, preparation and response are essential.
  7. While some risks, like chemical spills or industrial accidents, can have immediate and obvious effects, others, like pollution exposure, may have more long-term consequences.
  8. From minimal threats to catastrophic disasters with wide-ranging effects, hazards can range in intensity.
  9. Occupational dangers are more common in some professions, such as mining, construction, or emergency services.
  10. To reduce dangers, hazardous materials such as radioactive substances or toxic compounds must be handled and disposed of according to specific protocols.
  11. Hazards can interact or build upon one another, creating complicated cascading effects. A flood, for instance, has the potential to harm chemical storage facilities and discharge dangerous materials into the environment.
  12. Some natural disasters, such as more frequent and severe storms, heatwaves, and sea level rise, could be made worse by climate change.
  13. Different demographic groups are impacted by hazards in different ways, with underprivileged people frequently being more vulnerable and having fewer means for coping and recovery.
  14. Hazard mitigation entails taking proactive steps to lower or eliminate the risks brought on by hazards, such as putting in place early warning systems or strengthening infrastructure.
  15. For individuals and communities to respond to dangers and lessen their effects, education, awareness, and preparedness are essential.

Main Difference Between Hazard and Risk in Points

  1. Risk is defined as a circumstance that could result in loss, damage, or harm. Hazard, on the other hand, denotes something that is a cause of harm, risk, or loss.
  2. Risk denotes the likelihood of harm, whereas hazard denotes the likelihood of harm's cause.
  3. The possibility that a choice will put people's lives, their property, or anything else in danger constitutes a risk. Contrarily, a hazard is a physical entity, circumstance, or environment that endangers human life, property, or anything else.
  4. The risk of something can be easily measured in terms of high or low degrees. However, it is completely impossible to gauge risk in terms of degrees.


It is therefore accurate to argue that risk is likelihood and hazard is the likely result. Both are distinct and must not be mixed. Risk can have both positive and negative effects, meaning that it may or may not produce a loss because it could also lead to a gain. Hazard, on the other hand, has negative impacts solely.


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"Difference Between Hazard and Risk." Diffzy.com, 2024. Mon. 20 May. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-hazard-and-risk>.

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