Safety and Security

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Safety and security are two concepts that both indicate the level of protection against risk.


Although safety and security are terms that describe a state, they can also be used to describe a form of protection (the actions or measures taken to improve that state).

Distinction between safety and security

A hard hat, a typical safety measure against accidents
Locks, a typical security measure against wilful acts
The distinction between safety and security lies in the type of threat that is at the source of the risk. While security concerns risk due to human intent (wilful harmful acts), safety concerns all other risk. Shortly put, safety concerns protection from accidents, security concerns protection from crime.

This means that whether a measure is a security measure or a safety measure, depends on the type of risk it is meant to mitigate. A reinforced window for example can be both:

  • When installed to prevent harm coming to the inhabitants coming from a gas tank accidentally exploding, it would be a safety measure.
  • When installed to protect the inhabitants from terrorist explosions, it would be a security measure.

A measure can also serve as a security and a safety measure at the same time. An example can be found in a door: the fire-delaying properties of the door might serve as a safety measure while the fact that it is protecting against unauthorised entry is a security measure.

Entry points for safety and security