Fundamentals of Hazard Assessment

Before beginning a hazard assessment, carefully define the scope of your assessment and assemble your team to help get everyone organized and set expectations. Understanding how to assess risk and select appropriate control measures will help you establish protocols to maintain a safer working environment.

Hazard assessment is an ongoing process with no definitive end point. Revisit hazard assessment in your lab regularly. Discuss any incidents, injuries, and near misses. Capitalize on opportunities for continual learning and hazard review when new lab workers join your team, or when new or updated equipment arrives.

Know the difference between a HAZARD and a RISK

"Hazard" and "Risk" are NOT the same.


  • A hazard causes harm.
  • A hazard can be eliminated, but not reduced.


  • Risk is the probability that a hazard will cause harm.
  • Risk associated with a hazard can be reduced.




  • Discuss past incidents, injuries, and near misses.
  • New equipment, facilities, and personnel bring with them new hazards and new controls to apply.
  • Continue to revisit, revise, and update safety documents and protocols based on the information you collect from frequent hazard assessments.
This collection of methods and tools for assessing hazards in research laboratories is based on the publication, Identifying and Evaluating Hazards in Research Laboratories [PDF]. The guide was published in 2015 by the Hazard Identification and Evaluation Task Force of the American Chemical Society’s Committee on Chemical Safety in response to a recommendation from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.

Get Involved with Chemical Safety Initiatives

Connect with Us

Email the Safety team at