Hazard is a natural or man-made event or phenomenon which has the potential to cause harm or loss to both natural environment as well as human life. Some prominent definition of hazard includes the following ones.

Burton defined hazard as the elements of physical environment which are harmful to man, which are caused by forces extraneous to him. Standards Australia, in the year 2000, defined hazard as the source of a potential harm, or the situation which might have the potential to cause loss.


What does 'paradigm' refer?

The term 'paradigm' has developed from a Greek word 'παράδειγμα' (parádeigma) that means 'example' or 'instance', which comes from 'παρά' (para) meaning 'beside' and 'δείκνυμι' (deiknunai) meaning 'to show'. It generally refers to the coordination of a number of scientific or philosophic synthesis of concepts and thoughts, which might include postulates, theories, studying methods, and many others in order to develop a compact idea about any distinct topic.

Hazard Paradigm

The topic of interest is hazard paradigm. As mentioned previously that paradigm refers to an synthesis of a topic to make its overall illustration. Hence 'Hazard Paradigm' might refer to the synthesis of concept, theories, approaches, paradigm shift, mitigation strategies of hazards‒ all of them under a broad grouping, to provide a overall illustration of hazard study.

Thenceforth, a brief account of hazard paradigm is provided below, following the aforementioned points which comes under it.

Concept of hazard

Concept of hazard might be clear to you from the introductory part. Notwithstanding, a further illustrated concept of hazard is given. Hazard is an agent bearing the potential to cause harm and loss to natural environment along with human life. This can interrupt human activity and can also damage property. For instance, flood, drought, river bank landslide, building collapse, nuclear accident, and others.

Some prominent examples include–
  • Bank erosion of Beki River in Barpeta district of Assam.
  • The Vizag gas leak from LG Polymers chemical plant on 7th May 2020.
  • Collapse of a 3-storied under construction building due to dredging work of a canal in West Midnapore district of West Bengal on 13 June 2020.

In this regard, it is important to remember that, hazard might occur in a small scale and lasts for a short time period, as compared to a disaster.

This phenomenon might be completely natural, or entirely man-made, or sometimes develops by the intervention of both human beings and nature. In this regard, hazards are classified into three types, i.g, Natural Hazard, Man-made Hazard, and Quasi-natural Hazard.


Despite this, classification of hazard is quite extensive and depends on individual perspectives. Such as, Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre, in 2015, has classified hazard into two types- Multiple hazards, and Secondary hazard. Bryant, in the year 2005, has classified hazard into two groups- Chronic hazard, and Periodic hazard. Thus, many other individuals have classified hazard events into various types from their own perspective.


Theoretical study on hazard

The theoretical study on hazard includes the theory of risk which occurs during the use of antropo-technical systems, and an analytical study of the structure, prevention of hazards. The nature, environment, human psychological state, etc. are noted as the distinct systems. The hazard theory is a fundamental part of system security theory, as well as the core theoretical basis of safety assessment and security management. Henceforth, the research on hazard theory is of cabbalistic.

System Security Theory denotes that system security management methods should be applied to identify system hazards in the system life cycle. Operative controlling measures should be taken to minimize their hazards.

Approaches to evaluate hazard events

Hazard evaluation is the process of calculating the probability of occurrence of a certain volume of potentially-harmful hazard events within a specified period of time for a given area. Some information is needed to determine the prevention measures for a hazard event, e.g., the location or extent to which the hazard event occurs, its severity and manageability. Thus evaluation of hazard events denotes the process of collecting such informations.

There are some approaches to evaluate hazard events. These are mentioned in the following.
  • Quantitative approach : In quantitative approach, numerical and mathematical measures are taken into account to assess a hazard event. For instance, to assess the damage caused by flood in an area, the numerical measures, such as depth of flood inundation, amount of rainfall, and other data are collected to quantify hazard event.
  • Qualitative approach : Qualitative approach acts as the alternative of the quantitative approach. When something cannot be expressed through numerical data, qualitative measures are then taken into account. Qualitative approaches are expressed through rating scales, i.e., "very high", "high, moderate", "low", "very low". This rating can always be changed based on requirement.
  • Probabilistic approach : As the name suggests, it comes under a probabilistic measure. Previous hazard events are studied to estimate the probability of future hazard detriment of any considered area.
  • Deterministic Approach : In the case of deterministic approach, current datasets and datasets of past events are combined and compared to assess or to determine the exposure level of recent hazardous event of an area.

Paradigm shift

Paradigm shift in hazard study (especially in disaster management) is all about the change of approach, or outlook, or the way of thinking. The shifting of only relief-centric approach towards the more enterprising, compact and integrated approach for hazard or disaster management, through the processes of prevention, preparedness, mob-drill, capacity building, mitigation strategies, etc., is called the 'paradigm shift in disaster management'.

Paradigm shift stress on the reduction of risk for the vulnerable target. It implements the approaches of preparedness, planning, management policies, capacity building (e.g., developing frameworks and guidelines, legislation, emergency services, etc.); rather than normal reactive approaches of providing relief, humanitarian assistance, and others, which are usually taken after the occurrence of hazard or disaster.

As an example of paradigm shift, the following can be mentioned. Within six years, from 2010 to 2016, Indonesia had faced eleven earthquakes of magnitudes varying between 6.1 to 8.6 in Richter scale. As the tectonic structure beneath Indonesia is very much active, this region is so vulnerable or prone to earthquake. Hence, in order to minimize the adverse impact of earthquake hazard or disaster, they had changed or shifted their paradigm, by carrying out preparedness programs, training of craftsmen, engineers, mob-drill, and other initiatives.

So, a bold move to shift from reactive approach to proactive approach is very much necessary in order to reduce the causality caused by hazards and disasters, and to increase the degree of recovery and effective response.


Mitigation strategies

Preventing methods or mitigation strategies describe various ways of dealing with the potential risk of hazards. These basically act as a risk reduction and recovery measures. The mitigation strategies might include risk elimination, avoidance, transfer, sharing or reducing at an sustainable level.

Government or administrative or regulatory actions and policies are also taken into account to deal with and to decrease the amount of losses caused by a hazard event. Theses strategies, policies or frameworks for any country are designed based on its previous experiences with hazards or disasters.

Some mitigation policies are–
  • United State’s FEMA-approved hazard mitigation policies like State Mitigation Plan Review Guide Policy (6 March 2015), Policy for use of Local Mitigation Planning Handbook (29 March 2013), Tribal Mitigation Plan Review Guide (December 2017), etc.
  • India’s National Policy on Disaster Management (2009), National Disaster Management Plan (2015), etc.

This way, a synthesis of hazard paradigm can be carried forward by the coordination of the aforementioned points, which brings all those distinct topics under one umbrella. And thus a notable illustration of a hazard study can also be developed.

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