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OK I’ve had enough of all the discussions on risk assessment.  How complex do we have to make risk assessment?  I’m sad to say it’s appearing to me that it’s as complex as you want to make it or charge for!

Two Rants in one.

First Definition of Risk.

I can’t recall who said it BUT – “if it takes several notes to explain a definition that definition is worthless”…. Or the person who said that “definitions should not be for the “academic” it should be understandable by all. My perspective has been – having run quite a few risk courses – is that if I have to take 15 to 20 mins explaining risk that is at least 13 mins too long. I’ve tried shuffling the words to be more “correct” (IMHO) so that risk is “Effect on Objectives (Impact)” of “Uncertainty (Likelihood)” but even that is stretching it for the phrase itself can only really mean impact as uncertainty means “don’t know”  whereas Likelihood has to have a level of understanding … can still have SOME uncertainty but as not ALL risk is uncertain the definition has chosen unwisely the term uncertain..

KISS should mean Keep It Simple Simon not Keep It Scientific Simon and the sheer volume of discussion indicates the definition is not a good one…. Nothing wrong with OHSAS 18k et al,combination of the likelihood of an occurrence of a hazardous event or exposure(s) and the severity of injury or ill health (3.8) that can be caused by the event or exposure(s)

Secondly Combination

Then that leads to the other discussion point that has gone on for months…. What does Combinationmean?  My view is we can combine ((L*I)… which is another nugatory debate which way round!!!!) in a few ways …

we can add or multiply and – depending on how use the terms and scaling – you could even divide.

Way Way back I was guided towards multiplication and I have not seen or heard any argument that has changed my mind BUT does it actually matter – Here’s two table options

Risk Rants – Part One of ?I agree that the outcomes are different I agree but either forms give some usable guidance to lowest-highest risk. I still consider that multiplication is the better of the two methods because – IMHO –it gives a more reasonable reflection for ensuring action on those issues that are either more likely to happen or those that could have a significant Impact (like >3 days loss of earnings) “on objectives”.

I have used this methodology in a blue chip company to reduce accidents by 50% in less than a year BUT I have also used it to identify what to do to turn a company from a $750k loss to having a $20million offer and also to help another company get away from complex FMEA structure to identify the 4 or 5 key issues that dramatically improved reliability and – therefore – customer satisfaction.

I don’t reject more complex methods – time and places – nor do I reject that certain environments – mainly because they talk in a different “pseudo-language” –  struggle with simplicity BUT I do consider that multiplication can work quite well for any circumstances as a “prioritization” tool. In the next Blog(s) I’m going to outline a methodology to substantiate that