Can you make a list of your top three safety threats?

A 2021 global poll named traffic collisions, crime, and violence as the top safety threats mentioned by poll participants.

An animation of 7 people of different races and backgrounds walking. The text reads,

Safety and security have similar meanings but a big difference involves when action is taken:

  • Safety measures usually happen after an incident, making them reactive.

  • Security measures usually happen before an incident, making them proactive.

Knowing the difference between safety and security will give you a better understanding of how each concept works in society.

What is safety?

Safety involves a feeling of protection from harm or risk.

A man with glasses in front of a solid yellow background putting a yellow hard hat on then removing it.

The presence of safety usually leads to the creation of security.

Many safety measures are reactive instead of proactive. This means that they happen after an incident occurs.

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For example:

  • A company may notice that many of its roadside workers are getting injured while working in the dark.

  • Reflective vests can be added to worker uniforms to make them easier to see by drivers and each other as they work in the dark.

This way, a level of safety is created for the roadside work environment.

What is security?

Security involves actions that lead to protection from danger.

A security guard standing from The Simpsons with folded arms in front of a barrier arm gate.

The presence of security usually leads to a feeling of safety.

Many security measures are proactive instead of reactive. This makes prevention and minimization of danger a key focus.

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For example:

  • Workers may need to pass checks and inspections before entering their work site.

  • Security badges may be used to decide who gets to enter certain environments.

These measures help to keep work areas secure. By knowing all people with access, it's easier to trace potential threats and sources of harm.

How do safety and security differ in English?

The root word of safety, safe, can be used as an adjective or a noun.

A hand placing a piggy bank in a safe before three safe doors close. The third door closes and locks.

As an adjective:

  • To be safe means to be free of harm or danger.

    i.e. Melchi felt safe selling her old car in front of the police station.

As a noun:

  • A safe is a metal box or container that is designed to keep valuables safe.

    i.e. Dion kept his passport and valuables in the hotel room safe.

The root word of security, secure, can be used as an adjective or a verb.

A person using a packing tape dispenser to seal a box. The text reads,

As an adjective:

  • To be secure means to be free of harm or danger.

    i.e. Aisha felt more secure after her front door lock was fixed.

As a verb:

  • To secure something can mean to obtain or get something or

  • To protect something from a threat or danger

    i.e. Pierre was told to secure the tarp on his car so the wind wouldn't blow it away.

Knowledge check: Tonya's neighborhood

Tonya recently moved into a new community and noticed that there is 24/7 video camera surveillance all over the community.

Three security cameras outdoors on top of a pole facing different directions. Photo by Michał Jakubowski on Unsplash

After speaking to her new neighbor, Tonya finds out that the cameras are a newer addition to the community.

After neighbors filed countless complaints about common area vandalism and theft, the property manager added the cameras.

Surprisingly, neighbors found that most of the vandalism and theft had stopped once the cameras were installed.


Based off what Tonya was told, was the addition of the video cameras more of a safety measure or security measure?

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