Assessing Risks – Step 3 – Evaluate the risk

OK, so now you’ve estimated the risk and worked out your risk level – what are you going to do about it?  International occupational safety and health or labour laws expect organisations to do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm.

Usually, the higher the risk level, the more serious the risk is and the more likely you’ll need to take action.  To make it easier to decide on the urgency of the action, you can allocate an action level of risk.

This way of estimating and evaluating risk is called the ‘risk matrix’ approach – it’s a commonly used tool.

Risk estimation techniques and action levels will vary from company to company.  Remember, there are several ways to do a risk assessment.  It’s important that you use the right method.  Usually, complex processes require more advanced methods.

We will discuss the different ways of reducing risk that are available to you in future topics.

It’s important to remember that there’s never a zero risk rating because there’s always a chance of something happening.  Also, once you’ve done something to reduce the risk, you’ll need to estimate and evaluate the risk again to see whether you’ve done enough.

You can also use a five-point scale to estimate likelihood and consequence, with five descriptions for likelihood and five for consequence.

So the likelihood could be ranked as:
1 – Extremely Unlikely – there’s a 1 in a million chance of the hazardous event happening

2 – Unlikely – there’s a 1 in 100,000 chance of the hazardous event happening

3 – Possible – there’s  a 1 in 10,000 chance of the hazardous event happening

4 – Very Likely – there is a 1 in a 1,000 chance of the hazardous event happening

5 – Almost Certain – there’s a 1 in 100 chance of the hazardous event happening.

Click here for an example of a risk matrix
Did you know…?

In Great Britain in 2014/15 an estimated 23.3 million days were lost due to work-related ill health and 4.1 million due to workplace injuries.  On average, each person suffering took around 15 days off work (HSE).