Risk in the Context of Health and Safety

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Risk in the Context of Health and Safety

In its most basic form, risk can be defined as the likelihood or possibility of the occurrence of harm. According to Hughes and Ferret (2009), "a risk is the likelihood of a substance, activity or process to cause harm." Similarly, Barnard (1998) identifies risk as the likelihood of an individual being harmed by a hazard. According to the author, walking (or running) across a wet floor can be regarded a risk. In the context of health, risk can be taken to be the likelihood of an individual or a number of individuals experiencing a health effect regarded adverse as a result of exposure to a hazard. Adverse health effects include but they are not limited to decreased lifespan, disease, or bodily injury.
It is however important to note that in seeking to define risk, it would be prudent to define the term hazard as well. As Hughes and Ferret (2009) point out, the need to distinguish between the two terms cannot be overstated. This is more so the case given that the two terms have wrongly been used interchangeably in the past. A hazard in the opinion of Barnard (1998) is simply the potential for harm. According to the author, spilled coffee on a tiled floor of an office can be regarded a hazard.
In an attempt to further distinguish between a risk and a hazard and how risk can be minimized, I will take into consideration a typical office scenario. For instance, a slipping hazard would be presented when people walk across a tilled

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