Describing Risks

The size of a Risk can be expressed as a relationship between Frequency and Consequence Value, shown in the Risk Diagram.  This means that we must be able to describe (define) the Risk for which we are drawing this Risk Diagram.

What follows is how we can go about this.

A. The adverse Consequences in the Risk Diagram are those experienced by assets of interest to us – people, businesses, equipment, money, reputation, good will etc.  Hence we must be clear about what these assets are for the purposes of estimating the Risk (drawing the Risk Diagram).  For example, if our underlying concern is injury or ill health of people do we include members of the public as well as employees of the organisation within which the Risk exists?  Do we include in Consequences those experienced by the organisation or are we limiting ourselves to just the experience of the injured people?  The choice we make just needs to suit our purpose and be either explicitly or implicitly evident in our description of the Risk.

Example: Employees

Description:  Risk to employees

B. With assets identified we need to describe the Consequence types of interest. 

Example: Injury, not ill health.

Description:  Risk to employees arising from injury

C. What Consequence Values are of interest to us?  These indicate the measures we will make use of.  Measures can be of the cost of injury, the cost of damage repair, the extent of monetary loss.  

Example: The cost of medical treatment; rehabilitation; lost earnings; pain and suffering and loss of future enjoyment of life (courts of law have ways of determining these values), the value of death (there are accounting ways of determining such a figure)

Description:  Risk to employees arising from the costs associated with injury

D. As we know from the theory, such Consequences arise (probabilistically) from the Occurrence process.  These processes involve energy if damage/injury/ill health are of interest or may be non-energy processes if no damage etc. is possible.  Our next step is then to make the nature of the Occurrence process clear.  If an energy-based process, in what energy form are we interested?  

Example: Falls, or it could be all energy forms that give rise to injury.  We choose and decide.

Description:  Risk to employees arising from the costs associated with injury as a result of falls in the workplace

E. We now need to describe the situation in which the risk of interest to us exists.  This situation is a statement of the type of work or place or organisation.  Doing this enables us to pin point our data sources and gives us and the reader an immediately useful image of the nature of the risk.

Example: The high rise building construction industry

Description:  Risk to employees arising from the costs associated with injury as a result of falls in the high rise building construction industry

F. Finally, we need to say something about the circumstances and conditions of interest to us.  This provides a more specific understanding of our work.  If I talk about risks to pedestrians from cars it is immediately obvious to you that these will vary from congested urban environment to remote rural ones.

Example: In repairing war-damaged buildings in Palestine

Description:  Risk to employees arising from the costs associated with injury as a result of falls in the high rise building construction industry in repairing war-damaged buildings in Palestine.

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