Basics of Health and Safety: Hazard Risk Accident Incident Near Miss

Basics of Health and Safety: Hazard Risk Accident Incident Near Miss
Photo by lil artsy on

Basics of Health and Safety: Hazard Risk Accident Incident Near Miss

In today’s world, prioritizing health and safety has become increasingly crucial, especially in workplaces where numerous hazards and risks lurk. The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) plays a pivotal role in ensuring that individuals and organizations understand and implement effective health and safety measures. To comprehend NEBOSH’s principles, it’s imperative to grasp the definitions of fundamental terms like hazard, risk, accident, incident, and near miss.

Definition of Safety

Safety refers to the condition of being protected from harm or danger. It encompasses measures taken to prevent accidents, injuries, and illnesses in the workplace or any other environment. Safety involves the implementation of various protocols, procedures, and precautions to ensure the well-being of individuals and the environment.


Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as helmets, gloves, and goggles in a construction site to prevent injuries from falling debris or hazardous materials.

Regular maintenance and inspection of machinery and equipment to ensure they are in proper working condition and pose no threat to workers’ safety.

Providing adequate training to employees on emergency procedures such as evacuation plans and first aid protocols to mitigate potential risks.

Implementing safety signage and warning labels in hazardous areas to alert individuals of potential dangers and prevent accidents.

Conducting safety audits and risk assessments to identify potential hazards and implement necessary control measures to eliminate or minimize risks.

Definition of Hazard

What is a Hazard?

A hazard is any potential source of harm or adverse health effect on a person or property. Hazards can manifest in various forms, including physical, chemical, biological, ergonomic, and psychosocial.

Types of Hazards

  • Physical Hazards: These encompass environmental factors like noise, radiation, temperature extremes, and mechanical hazards.
  • Chemical Hazards: Chemicals or substances that can cause harm through ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact fall into this category.
  • Biological Hazards: Pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites pose biological hazards.
  • Ergonomic Hazards: Poor workstation setup, repetitive tasks, and awkward postures contribute to ergonomic hazards.
  • Psychosocial Hazards: Factors like workplace stress, bullying, harassment, and violence fall under psychosocial hazards.


Chemical hazards: Exposure to toxic substances such as acids, solvents, or gases, which can cause chemical burns, respiratory problems, or other health issues.

Physical hazards: Presence of machinery, equipment, or objects that can cause injury through mechanical forces such as cutting, crushing, or impact.

Biological hazards: Exposure to pathogens, bacteria, or viruses present in organic materials or biological waste, which can lead to infectious diseases or illnesses.

Ergonomic hazards: Poorly designed workstations, repetitive tasks, or improper lifting techniques that can cause musculoskeletal disorders such as back pain or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Psychosocial hazards: Workplace stress, bullying, harassment, or excessive workload, which can have negative impacts on mental health and well-being.

Definition of Risk

Understanding Risk

Risk refers to the likelihood of a hazard causing harm in combination with the severity of that harm. It involves identifying hazards, analyzing their potential consequences, evaluating the associated risks, and implementing control measures to mitigate them.

Components of Risk Assessment

  • Hazard Identification: Identifying potential hazards within a workplace or environment.
  • Risk Analysis: Assessing the likelihood and severity of harm arising from identified hazards.
  • Risk Evaluation: Evaluating the level of risk and determining whether existing control measures are adequate.
  • Risk Control: Implementing measures to eliminate or minimize identified risks.

Importance of Risk Management

Effective risk management ensures the safety and well-being of individuals while also safeguarding organizational assets and reputation.


The risk of falls from height in a construction site due to inadequate fall protection measures such as guardrails or safety harnesses.

The risk of fire in a chemical storage facility due to improper handling or storage of flammable materials.

The risk of ergonomic injuries among office workers due to prolonged sitting, poor workstation setup, or repetitive typing tasks.

The risk of exposure to radiation among workers in nuclear facilities due to improper shielding or inadequate training on radiation safety.

The risk of electrical shock in a manufacturing plant due to faulty wiring or equipment maintenance.

Definition of Accident

What Constitutes an Accident?

An accident is an unplanned event that results in injury, damage, or loss. It can occur in various settings, including workplaces, roads, and homes.

Types of Accidents

  • Workplace Accidents: Injuries or incidents that occur within the workplace premises.
  • Road Traffic Accidents: Incidents involving vehicles on roads, highways, or streets.
  • Home Accidents: Mishaps occurring within residential premises, often leading to injuries or property damage.

Impact of Accidents

Accidents can have severe consequences, including physical injuries, psychological trauma, financial loss, and legal implications.


A slip and fall incident in a restaurant kitchen due to spilled oil on the floor, resulting in a cook sustaining a leg injury.

A machinery malfunction in a factory causing a worker’s hand to get caught in the equipment, resulting in a severe laceration.

A vehicle collision on a construction site due to poor visibility and inadequate traffic control measures, leading to multiple injuries among workers.

An explosion in a chemical plant caused by a reaction between incompatible substances, resulting in severe damage to the facility and environmental pollution.

A scaffolding collapse at a construction site due to improper installation and overloading, resulting in several workers falling and sustaining injuries.

Definition of Incident

Defining an Incident

An incident refers to any unplanned event or occurrence that disrupts normal operations or has the potential to cause harm.

Examples of Incidents

Incidents may include equipment malfunctions, power outages, or disruptions in service delivery.

Reporting and Investigating Incidents

Prompt reporting and thorough investigation of incidents are essential for identifying root causes and implementing preventive measures.


A near miss incident where a forklift narrowly avoids colliding with a pedestrian in a warehouse due to the quick reflexes of the operator.

A chemical spill in a laboratory that is promptly contained and cleaned up before it causes any harm to personnel or the environment.

A power outage in a manufacturing facility due to a faulty circuit breaker, resulting in a temporary disruption of production activities.

An equipment malfunction in a hospital operating room that is detected and rectified before it affects patient care or safety.

A software glitch in an online banking system that temporarily prevents customers from accessing their accounts but is resolved without any financial loss or data breach.

Definition of Near Miss

Understanding Near Misses

A near miss is an incident that could have resulted in injury, damage, or loss but did not due to timely intervention or sheer luck.

Importance of Reporting Near Misses

Reporting near misses allows organizations to identify underlying hazards and implement corrective actions to prevent future accidents.

Learning from Near Misses

Analyzing near misses provides valuable insights into potential risks and enables proactive risk management.


A scaffold plank slips off its support brackets but does not fall to the ground, narrowly missing workers below.

A chemical container is dropped during transportation but does not rupture, preventing the release of hazardous substances.

A motorist swerves to avoid a collision with another vehicle, narrowly avoiding a potentially serious accident.

A loose handrail on a staircase is detected and repaired before it causes anyone to trip or fall.

A malfunctioning fire alarm system fails to activate during a small fire incident but is promptly repaired, preventing the situation from escalating into a major emergency.


In conclusion, understanding the definitions of hazard, risk, accident, incident, and near miss is paramount for promoting a safe and healthy environment. NEBOSH’s emphasis on these concepts underscores the importance of comprehensive health and safety training and management practices.

What Are Safety Rules?

Safety Rules in Industry

10 Rules for Workplace Safety

Importance of Safety in Construction Sites

Construction Site Rules and Regulations


Q: Why is it important to differentiate between hazards and risks? A: Differentiating between hazards and risks allows organizations to prioritize and effectively manage potential threats to health and safety.

Q: How can organizations prevent accidents in the workplace? A: Implementing robust safety protocols, providing adequate training, and fostering a culture of awareness and accountability are key measures to prevent workplace accidents.

Q: What actions should be taken after an incident occurs? A: After an incident, immediate medical attention should be provided if necessary, followed by reporting the incident, conducting a thorough investigation, and implementing corrective actions to prevent recurrence.

Q: Why are near misses considered valuable in health and safety management? A: Near misses offer valuable opportunities for learning and improvement by highlighting potential hazards and allowing organizations to take proactive measures to prevent accidents.

Q: How does NEBOSH contribute to improving health and safety standards? A: NEBOSH provides globally recognized qualifications and training programs that equip individuals and organizations with the knowledge and skills to effectively manage health and safety risks, thereby contributing to the enhancement of overall safety standards.


  1. Very concise, clear & to the point….
    Thank you so much..


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here