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Risk is the likelihood of an accident or incident arising from a hazard. The significance of a risk depends on the potential worst outcome should such an accident or incident occur, combined with how likely it is to happen.

Note: See our Notifying accidents and incidents page for more information.

What is a hazard?

A hazard is a source (an object, situation or behaviour) of potential injury, harm, or ill health to people. This definition may also include damage or harm to property or the environment.

Hazards can be classified into the following categories, which may make them easier to identify:

  • Physical (eg noise, radiation, collisions)
  • Thermal (eg boilers and fireboxes, welding, exhausts)
  • Pressure (eg boilers and steam lines, compressed air)
  • Electrical (eg machine malfunctions, overhead traction lines)
  • Gravity (eg slips/trips, runaway rail vehicles, falls from height, overhead objects)
  • Mechanical (eg contact with sharp, heavy or moving objects)
  • Chemical (eg toxicity, fumes, skin irritation)
  • Biological (eg bacteria, viruses)
  • Psychosocial (eg stress, violence, bullying)
  • Ergonomic (eg repetitive movements, body stress and strain)
  • Behavioural (eg poor practices, noncompliance with procedures)