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Hazards and Risks

"Hazard" and "risk" are words which are synonymous in common use but in the technical jargon of Safety Management have different meanings:-

Hazard

The hazard presented by a substance or activity is its potential to do harm (rock-climbing is a hazardous activity)

Risk

The risk from a substance or activity is the likelihood that it will cause harm in the circumstances of actual use or that the hazard will be realised (rock-climbing may be of low risk if the proper equipment is used and the rules are followed).

The aim of making a "risk assessment" is to identify the hazards associated with an activity, to assess the seriousness of these hazards and to formulate systems of work, training or other methods (controls) to reduce the associated risks to a minimum or at least to an acceptable level.

This procedure has to be carried out by someone who is experienced and fully familiar with the activity i.e. a "competent person".

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