When discussing the concepts of risk, safety, and security, people have an intuitive understanding of what these concepts mean, and, to a certain level, this understanding is universal. However, when delving into the real meaning of these concepts, one is likely to fall into semantic debates and ontological discussions. In industrial parks, it is important that (risk) managers from different companies, belonging to one and the same park, have the same understanding of the concepts of risk, safety, and security. It is even important that all companies in all industrial parks share a common understanding regarding these issues. As such, this paper explores the similarities and differences behind the perceptions of these concepts, to come to a fundamental understanding of risk, safety, and security, proposing a semantic and ontological ground for safety and security science, based on an etymological and etiological study of the concepts of risk and safety. The foundation has been induced by the semantics used in the ISO 31000 risk management guidance standard. Hence, this article proposes a coherent, standardized set of concepts and definitions with a focus on the notion “objectives” that can be used as an ontological foundation for safety and security science, linking “objectives” with the concepts of safety, security, risk, performance and also failure and success, theoretically allowing for an increasingly more precise understanding and measurement of (un)safety across the whole range of individuals, sectors and organizations, or even society as a whole.
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