Difference between hazard and disaster


A hazard is a dangerous event, incident, consequence, occurrence or agent which has possibility to cause harm, damage and threat to life, property, infrastructure and environment.

  1. Those elements of the physical environment, harmful to man and caused by forces extraneous to him. (Burton et al 1978)
  2. A source of potential harm or a situation with a potential to cause loss. (Standards Australia, 2000)

A hazard represents a source of potential damage or loss of life.



The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Disaster as “any occurrence that causes damage, ecological disruption, loss of human life, deterioration of health and health services, on a scale sufficient to warrant an extraordinary response from outside the affected community or area.”

A disaster is an event that causes great damage or loss of life. A cruise missile sitting in the hold of a ship is a hazard, but when it detonates it creates a disaster.



Mainly the hazard is the event which has the possibility to cause damage to the environment or human. It will be defined as hazard until it does not cause any damage. But when it makes damage to the environment or human it will be defined as disaster.

  • A hazard is the potential, a disaster is the potential realized.
  • Living on the flank of a volcano is hazardous, when it erupts it becomes a disaster.

Difference between Hazard & Disaster

Hazard   Disaster
A dangerous situation needing to be heeded because it can lead to a disaster.  


A dangerous situation that has become out of control and is a disaster
A threat that can be managed by observing warning signs and keeping in harmony with the environment.  


An international danger and threat to humanity that needs intervention to bring the situation under control.
Hazard can be used as a verb and a noun. 3 Disaster is used as a noun.
Hazardous is the adjective derived from hazard  


Disastrous is the adjective derived from disaster.
Hazards are known to have specific warnings usually man-made to prevent disastrous events.  


Disasters are the outcomes of hazards when warning signs were ignored.
Hazards can lead to disasters.  


A disaster is the result of a hazard but at the same time is also a hazardous event.



  1. Cyclone is basically a hazard. Because it can cause damage human lives and environment. We know that cyclone forms in the deep sea and comes towards the coastal area. When it forms and comes towards the coastal area it is termed as ‘Hazard’. But when it hits coast and destroy coastal buildings, human lives, trees and environment then it will be called as ‘Disaster’.
  2. Another example is drugs. It is an agent which cause damage to human. But when it produced it is termed as hazard. After using by people when it causes problems then it is termed as disaster.