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What constitutes a hazard?

What constitutes a hazard in any given specific area of life (work, leisure, home, etc.) may vary slightly, but speaking as a whole, a hazard is basically any kind of situation or practice with the potential to expose one or more individuals to health risks or cause them mental or bodily harm.

What constitutes a hazard at work?

Within occupational settings, for instance, what constitutes a hazard is partly determined by the occupation and industry. Possible hazards are divided into several categories, including:

  • Biological hazards, like animals, bacteria, plants or viruses
  • Chemical hazards, including acids, fumes or solvents; fires and explosions; reactive chemicals or heavy metals (like, for instance, lead)
  • Ergonomic hazards, which could consist of improper configuration of workstations or repetitive motions, for example
  • Physical hazards, which include noise, pressure extremes and radiation, as well as magnetic fields
  • Psychosocial hazards, which are related to bullying or violence at work, overwork and stress

Then, of course, there are safety-related hazards.

What constitutes a hazard related to safety?

Safety-related hazards include, for example, slips, trips and falls; malfunction or breakdown of equipment, transportation and severe weather (floods, tornadoes, etc).

Hazard and risk

Risk in this instance is defined as the probability that one or more workers will be harmed in accidents at work or develop work-related illnesses as a direct result of hazards in the workplace. Risk is also a combination of several factors, including the:

  • Work environment
  • Worker
  • Required task
  • Tools used in performing the task

The risk of workplace accidents and industrial illnesses must be minimised by evaluating hazards at work within the context of all of these factors and taking the necessary steps to minimise the level of risk workers are exposed to.


Excessive noise within a factory environment may, for instance, expose workers to the risk of developing gradual hearing loss. Employers would be required to prevent this by providing adequate hearing protection (ear plugs, ear muffs) and having an enforced policy requiring use of such protection in place.

When hazards become accidents

If you sustained an injury at work or developed an industrial illness within the past 36 months because your employer did not evaluate hazards and take the required steps to minimise the risk of workplace accidents, you could qualify for work injury compensation. Allow our in-house legal team here at Accident Advice Helpline to represent you for maximum success by calling 0800 689 5659 now.