Hazardous Event Meaning & Definition | EcoOnline
Health & Safety Glossary

Hazardous Event

A hazardous event refers to an incident, situation, or occurrence that has the potential to cause harm, damage, or adverse effects.


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What Is a Hazardous Event?

A hazardous event is described as any situation that leads to the creation of a hazard or exacerbates the impact of existing hazards. Hazardous events in the workplace can lead to bodily harm or injury, mental trauma, and cause damage to company property. 

Common examples of hazardous events include:

    • Equipment or machinery failure: In case of an equipment failure, it can lead to new hazards, such as overflows or pipe leakages. Failure of sensitive equipment, such as mixing valves or pressure regulators could cause serious property damage or increase the risk of injury to workers on-site. 

    • Breach of sterility: In certain work environments, devices or equipment must be sterilized before they can be used. However, if the sterility is breached due to packaging, it may expose the user to harmful microorganisms, creating a biological hazard.
    • Contamination of water supply: If the water supply in an organization is contaminated, it could make the water supply unfit for consumption. Hazardous events in this situation include stagnation or untreated ingress of the water in the tanks. 

It is important to understand that hazardous events usually occur in a sequence, exposing employees to a series of hazards that eventually cause harm. 

ISO 14971 Basic Concepts defines hazardous situations as circumstances that expose property, environment, or people to one or multiple hazards. 


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Chemical spillages could result in a hazardous eventIs your business prepared for a hazardous event such as a chemical spillage?

Hazardous Events vs. Hazards

Hazardous events are very different from environmental hazards. A hazard is defined as any source that can lead to potential harm or cause adverse effects on an individual or a group of people. It could be any activity or thing that can result in harm. 

Common examples of hazards in the workplace include exposure to noises, 

Hazardous events on the other hand are specific situations that create new hazards or make existing hazards more dangerous. When reporting on hazardous events, it is imperative to mention the effect that it had, and what caused the hazardous event in the first place.


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Benefits of Reporting Hazardous Events

Reporting hazardous events in the workplace is very important. While it is the employer’s duty to identify hazards, establish risk management protocols, and constantly update them, encouraging a safety-first culture in the workplace is also important. 

Reporting hazardous events in the workplace is very important, and employers must ensure that there’s a system in place that employees can use to submit their reports. Here are some of the benefits that timely reporting offers:

  • Identify changes in recorded hazards: when hazardous events are reported timely, employers get to know about newly identified hazards, and can update their risk management protocols accordingly.

  • Mitigate risk: once a hazardous event is reported, safety managers can work towards devising procedures to mitigate the risk posed by that new hazard or remove the risk altogether.

  • Improved health and safety overall: identifying hazards and reducing or removing the risk they pose altogether also improves the health and safety of employees overall and reduces workplace incidents significantly. 

  • Saves time and money: when companies deal with hazardous events early on, they don’t have to worry about spending lots of money on mitigating the risks or dealing with the fallout later. 

  • Improved public image: A safety-first culture in the workplace indicates that employers care about the safety of their employees. This makes the place more attractive to work for, and significantly improves the company’s public image. 

Conducting a Risk Assessment After a Hazardous Event

Once a hazardous event is reported in the workplace, it is imperative for employers to conduct a risk assessment. ISO 14971 outlines different types of hazards, ranging from chemical and biological hazards to energy and functional hazards.

Once a hazardous event occurs,  and is reported, safety managers need to thoroughly assess why that happened. ISO 14971 also provides guidance on circumstances that can eventually result in hazardous events. 

Companies generally benefit when they prepare master tables that highlight different hazards and identify event sequences which could eventually result in the occurrence of a hazardous event.

It’s imperative to reassess risk in the wake of a hazardous event and identify the steps the business needs to take. For instance, a common hazard related to cold water storage is the risk of chemical contamination. Hazardous events in such situations would include low chlorine content or sludge build-up. 

A subsequent risk assessment may reveal the presence of pathogens in the water supply, rendering it unfit for use. Severe hazardous events can also lead to a disaster in the workplace if a thorough risk assessment is not conducted. 

After conducting a risk assessment, the organization can then propose corrective actions. It’s important to record your findings as well and continue to update it as necessary, especially if you identify any improvements or if someone spots an issue.


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Streamline reporting for hazardous events by using EcoOnline’s Event Tracking Software. The software lets you identify hazardous events and ensure fast, consistent reporting. Track causality and implement changes rapidly in different processes to improve the safety of your workforce.

The software offers granular visibility into reported events, letting users assign actions to different team members, such as corrective actions. A detailed investigation element also lets you identify any patterns or underlying causes that need to be addressed.