What Are Hazards?

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"Hazard" is a broad term that refers to anything that is a source of danger or interruption. The two main types of hazards are safety hazards, which are things that can cause physical harm, and moral hazards, which are financial risks. You should know these definitions if you are pursuing studies in health and safety or financial or business management.

Safety Hazards and Obstacles

  • Safety hazards are situations or objects that can cause physical harm, illness or death. Examples include leaving an unattended pot on the stove, which can cause a fire; icy roads during the winter, which can cause accidents; or riding your bike without a helmet, which can lead to serious brain injury or death if you are knocked off the bike. Some hazards are known and warned against, but other hazards are unpredictable. In golfing, hazards are not deadly; they are areas of the course that present a challenge to players, such as a body of water, trees and sand pits.

Moral Hazards

  • Moral hazards are often discussed in the field of insurance. A moral hazard is when someone decides how much risk to take when some of the potential negative consequences are reduced. For example, a person with car insurance may take risks she wouldn't if she were uninsured, because she knows that if she gets into an accident, the insurance company will cover some of the damages.

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