Safety vs Security


There are two slightly different meanings of safety. For example, home safety may indicate a building’s ability to protect against external harm events. It may indicate that its internal installations are safe for its inhabitants.

Safety is the condition of a “steady state” of an organization or place doing what it is supposed to do. “What it is supposed to do” is defined in:
terms of public codes and standards,
associated architectural and engineering designs,
corporate vision and mission statements,
and operational plans and personnel policies.

For any organization, place, or function, large or small, safety is a normative concept. It complies with situation-specific definitions of what is expected and acceptable.

Discussions of safety often include mention of related terms. Security is such a term. With time the definitions between these two have often become interchanged, equated, and frequently appear juxtaposed in the same sentence. Readers unfortunately are left to conclude whether they comprise a redundancy. This confuses the uniqueness that should be reserved for each by itself. When seen as unique, as we intend here, each term will assume its rightful place in influencing and being influenced by the other.


Security is the process or means, physical or human, of delaying, preventing, and otherwise protecting against external or internal, defects, dangers, loss, criminals, and other individuals or actions that threaten, hinder or destroy an organization’s “steady state,” and deprive it of its intended purpose for being.

Security is freedom from, or resilience against, potential harm (or other unwanted coercive change) caused by others. Beneficiaries (technically referents) of security may be of persons and social groups, objects and institutions, ecosystems or any other entity or phenomenon vulnerable to unwanted change.

Security mostly refers to protection from hostile forces. It has a wide range of other senses:
The absence of harm (e.g. freedom from want);
The presence of an essential good (e.g. food security);
Resilience against potential damage or harm (e.g. secure foundations);
Secrecy (e.g. a secure telephone line);
Containment (e.g. a secure room or cell);
A state of mind (e.g. emotional security).

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