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Defining of safety and security


Safety and security is a priority for every country because development cannot take place in an environment which is detrimental to the wellbeing of people. The 9/11 attack that took place in American by terrorists is the benchmark that prompted many countries including America to make changes in the way of life and also the organization of governments with their political structure (Ballock et al, 2006) Ballock et al argues that “Securing the safety of the American people inside the borders of their homeland is a critical priority”.

This means that it is the responsibility of every nation to make sure that its citizen are safe and secure to any threat that can disrupt their way of living. In reaction to the devastating attack that took place in America on 11 september, 2001, the then President George W. Bush on 20th September, 2001 transformed the countries security by creating a ministry of Homeland to deal with issues of safety and security and Mr Tom Ridge was appointed as the homeland chief security(Bullock et al 2006).

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However, this essay will define what safety and security is, and will also explain the difference between the two terms and their similarities and lastly the essay will show the relationships of the two terms.

Definition of safety and security.

The concept of security.

The word security is a contested concept that has been defined differently by different scholars. The purpose of security is to make sure that people are free from threats that can affect their lives. According to Albrechtsen, (2003) he defines security as Protection against activities.

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He further defines security as a state of feeling safe, stable and free from fear or anxiety. Hovden, 1998 & Jacobsen et al, 2000 argued that security is just about protection against deliberate acts and also protection against unintended incidents that might bring one into a state of not being subject to threat. Security can also be defined as the state of being free from danger or threat (Pearsall & Hanks, 2001).

Another scholar Baldwin, (1997) defines security as a low probability of damage to acquire values. Security can also be understood as the absence of acute threats to the minimally acceptable levels of the basic values that a people consider essential to its survival (Krause & Nye, 1975). Albrechtse, (2007) argues that security is a condition of being protected against planned malicious and criminal incidents from a wide range of threats where what is protected is all kinds of values to an organization/individual and incidents happen due to the wish for a wanted output/consequence for the attacker. Lastly, Preece, (2011) defines security as the protection against deliberate accidents such as attacks from miscreants. Stone, (2006) define Security as the pursuit of freedom from threat and the ability of states and societies to maintain their independent identity and their functional integrity against forces of change, which they see as hostile (stone, 2006 cited in Buzan, 1991). In malawi context, the presence of Malawi police, Immigration, Malawi Defence Force and Prison Services can be seen as a commitment of the leader to make sure that he is ready to deal with any threat that can disrupt the peace of his people.


Coming to the concept of Safety, Skavland & Jacobsen, (2000) defined safety as protection against random incidents. Random incidents are unwanted incidents that happens as a result of one or more coincident. Another scholar Pearsall & Hanks, (2001) defined Safety as the condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk or injury. This means that safety can be seen as something meant to avoid injury or damage for instance, wearing of protective clothes when spraying chemicals to crops in the field to avoid body contact can be seen as an example of safety.

Difference between safety and security

According to Albrechtsen, (2003) the difference of the two concepts can be understood based on causes, threats/hazards and loss.


On safety, an incident is most often as a result of human behavior in combination with the environment while on security, an incident is most often as a result of one person or a group’s will (Albrechtsen,2003).


On safety, hazards are observable, tangible and proximate while on security, hazards are not always observable, tangible and proximate (Albrechtsen, 2003).


On safety, Loss is related to human injuries/death and reliability of industrial assets while on security, loss is mainly related to physical assets and information (Albrechtsen, 2003).

Similarities between safety and security.

Albrechtsen, (2003) argues that the basic ideas of industrial safety and security are the same, both are protecting assets from hazards/threats creating safe/secure conditions. This means that both concepts are targeting at protecting assets from damage. The author further argued that security management can learn from safety management especially on the field of organizational aspects. Based on conditional dependencies, for companies to be safe in their computer systems so that their data is not tampered with criminals they rely much on cyber security as an important element for safety (Ludovic & Claude, N.D).

The two concepts namely Safety and Security were introduced to deal with any risk that can cause danger to the masses. In this case, a risk according to Rowe,(1977) can be defined as the potential for unwanted negative consequences of an event or activity. However, to avoid such unwanted negative consequences, the two concepts are applied. For instance, a computer faces a risk of being attacked by a Trojan virus, now for it to be safe, there is aneed to install an anti-virus for it to be safe.


This essay has given the definition of Safety and security and also the difference between the two terms and their similarities whereby it has shown that both concepts are aimed at protecting assets from threats/hazards. By taking the differences between security and safety into consideration it is possible to use safety management strategies in security management as well (Albrechtsen, 2003).


  • Albrechtsen E. (2003) Security vs safety. NTNU: Security and safety. Available at
  • BALDWIN D. (1997) The Concept of Security. Review of International Studies 23, 5-26
  • Bullock, J.A, Haddow, G.D, Westerman, L. (2006), Introduction to Homeland security, second edition. Amsterdam, London.
  • Jackson-Preece J. (2011) Security in International Relations. University of London: London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
  • Krause L and Nye J (1975) Reflections on the Economics and Politics of International Economic Organisations. In: Bergsten and Krause (eds.) World Politics and International Economics. Washington D.C.: The Brookings Institute
  • Ludovic, P., and Chaudet, C., (N.D), Disentangling the Relations between Safety and Secuity. Clamart institute, Paris, France.
  • Pearsall, J. and Hanks, P. (eds), (2001), The new Oxford dictionary of English. Oxford: Oxford, University Press.
  • Stone,M.(2006), Security According to Buzzan: A comprehensive security analysis, Columbia University, Newyork. USA

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Defining of safety and security. (2019, Dec 19). Retrieved from

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