Risk descriptions: Communicating risk more effectively | IMPAC health and safety

30 April, 2018  |  News

By Dan Davis

Good, simple risk descriptions are a useful way of making sense of how a hazard may cause harm in a specific context. They are also a great way to communicate the idea of risk to any audience, from a senior management team to workers at a toolbox talk and everyone in-between. A risk description should follow a set formula, as follows:

There is a risk of [target] [exposure event] [hazard] [consequences]

Here are some examples:

  • There is a risk of the slinger/signaller being struck by the load as it is moved and being killed or seriously/permanently injured
  • There is a risk of an aged care residential village having an outbreak of norovirus and multiple residents and staff getting very ill, also resulting in workforce shortage, bad publicity, and regulatory attention
  • There is a risk of a construction labourer breathing in silica dust repeatedly over a 1 year project and developing permanent lung diseases over the next 10 years
  • There is a risk of a trainee at a law firm being exposed to repeated verbal abuse and bullying, and developing a serious mental health condition as a result
  • There is a risk of a corporate manager crashing their car while driving home and getting seriously injured or killed

Risk descriptions can encourage a discussion of what might make the risk more likely to become a reality. It also invites a conversation about what is already in place to manage the risk, how much confidence we have in these measures, and most importantly, is there anything else that can be done to eliminate or reduce the risk.



About the author:                

Dan Davis is a Health and Safety Specialist at IMPAC. He has over 13 years’ experience in providing OHS advice and training in a wide variety of settings, including local government, health, social care and education sectors, SMEs, agriculture, and distribution.


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