Definition of the concept of safety

Safety is a state in which hazards and conditions leading to physical, psychological or material harm are controlled in order to preserve the health and well-being of individuals and the community. It is an essential resource for everyday life, needed by individuals and communities to realise their aspirations.

Attaining an optimum level of safety requires individuals, communities, governments and others to create and maintain the following conditions, whichever setting is considered :

  • a climate of social cohesion and peace as well as of equity protecting human rights and freedoms, at the family, local, national or international level;
  • the prevention and control of injuries and other consequences or harm caused by accidents;
  • the respect of the values and the physical, material and psychological integrity of individuals; and
  • the provision of effective preventive, control and rehabilitation measures to ensure the presence of the three previous conditions.

These conditions can be assured by initiatives that focus on the environment (physical, social, technological, political, economic and organizational) and on behaviour.

Source : Québec WHO Collaborating Centre for Safety Promotion and Injury Prevention, WHO Collaborating Centre on Community Safety Promotion, Karolinska Institutet, World Health Organisation, 1998. Safety and Safety Promotion: Conceptual and Operational Aspects, Québec.

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