The process of risk assessment is part of the risk management process and is shrouded, some would say, in a certain degree of mystery. It is true to say that being able to accurately assess risk is quite complex and is often carried out incorrectly. In this article we'll look at the basic ideas behind assessing risk and look at how someone might become better at it. |
The main problem with risk assessment is that it is very difficult to quantify risk of any kind. In the usual equation that those charged with risk assessing risk, 'R' equals the magnitude of a potential loss, 'L' represents loss, and 'p' equals probability of that loss occurring. The methods used to arrive at a conclusive risk assessment vary a great deal depending on the department of body doing the assessing.
One of the common problems is that fact that many of those who do the assessing consider something very bad happening that has a very low chance of occurring, is treated very differently than something of little magnitude happening - that is very likely to happen.
In the realm of public health, it is said that risk assessment is the process of working out what the probability of bad effects of people or segments of populations form particular person-oriented activities. In the vast majority of nations, the utilisation of particular chemicals of substances - or the function of certain facilities (for example nuclear power plants or factories) is not permitted unless it can be demonstrated that they do not elevate the risk of fatality or sickness above a previously identified threshold.
For instance, the United States Food and Drug Administration (the FDA) is the body charged with regulating food safety through vigorous risk assessment. This body insisted that cancer causing compounds must under no circumstances be contained within meat products in amounts that would lead to the causing of a cancer risk that is larger than one in a million lifetimes.
It is of course true that any assessing of risk cannot take the stance that if there is a risk, it should be either eliminated or the associated activity should be ceased, it is simply that if a risk goes up to an unreasonable level - where it would be costly to medical systems and ultimately the state - then there should be moves towards making the activity as safe or risk free as possible. There are a number of firms in the UK and indeed around the globe that offer training on this important issue.
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