Hazards & Risks

You're important. You have a right not to get hurt by work. You also have a responsibility to look after yourself and those around you.

In most workplaces, the chances of being seriously hurt are pretty low. But some things at work can hurt you, or might hurt someone else.

Just remember work is a special place. If you’re just starting work, you won’t know much about how to do the job safely or what might hurt you. You will need information from your employer. Speak Up if you are not given this information. You need it to make an informed decision. You need it to Stay Safe.

Getting it right means you have to get involved.

Getting involved means you need to understand some basic ideas about hazards, risks and rewards 

Click here for some common hazards and risks. For Q&A click here


  • A Hazard

    Anything that might hurt you (physically or mentally).

    Examples includes a spilt drink (slipping hazard), a loose wire (tripping hazard), dust (breathing hazard) or stress or bullying at work (mental health hazard).

  • A Risk

    The chance and impact of getting hurt by the hazard.

    Is it likely or not very likely, and the impact, i.e. how bad the injury/ill health would be (for example would it kill you, break a bone, cause a small bruise or make you sick or unhappy).

  • A Reward/Benefit

    This is what you want

    It includes achieving something (like climbing a ladder), getting something (like a new bike), doing something pleasurable, making some money or saving some time.

  • Example

    Let’s take an example of how you already use these ideas to act safely. You want to get home quickly to see a friend, but a busy road is in your way. There’s a bridge you could cross but it would be much quicker to cross the road directly. So what do you do?

  • Step 1 Identify the hazards and risks

    In this case the hazards are the passing cars, the risk is the chance and impact of being hit by a car. You remember that someone was badly injured crossing the same part of the road. You also think about spending time with your friend (the reward).

  • Step 2 Balance the options.

    You balance the risk of being hit by a car with the reward of seeing your friend. You can only do this when you have the information you need.

  • Step 3 Decision time.

    We are happy to take a risk as long as we think it will lead to a reward. If the risk is too big or the reward too small, we will stop doing it or do it differently. We say: “it’s not worth the risk.”

  • Step 4 Take action.

    You make the calculation and act accordingly. Sometimes in a split second. We often think like this in our normal lives. Same goes for work.