I thought this made interesting reading

  Forum Editor 19:33 01 Feb 2016
Locked

particularly when you think about it in the context of the health and safety culture in which we all live these days.

See what you think.

I've had to do quite a few risk assessments in my time - usually related to technology issues. It's amazing how nit-picky you can get, once you start delving into hypotheses and trying to assess probabilities.

  csqwared 19:47 01 Feb 2016

Some years ago I did D of E expedition training with Scouts, Girl Guides and Air Cadets. Various risk assessments were constructed which covered most eventualities and it all seemed to work. Due to pressure at work I had to give this up but resolved to return when I retired.

On retirement I was horrified at the amount of time required to justify, Health & Safety wise, any outside activity whatsoever. Sadly I didn't go back.

  Forum Editor 20:00 01 Feb 2016

csqwared

Imagine having to do the same thing with thousands of the component parts of a space capsule, or a space-walk suit, or the vehicle that will make the first manned mission to Mars.

  morddwyd 20:47 01 Feb 2016

People rend to confuse hazard and risk. The hazard is always there, the risk is the likelihood of the hazard causing harm.

The hazard of being knocked down is there every time you cross a road, however, the risk is much higher on the M1 than in Peep o' Day Lane in Dundee.

Risks are normally quantified using a matrix. Having identified a hazard you decide how likely it is to cause harm. say on a scale of 1 - 5 from "Not very likely" to "Almost Certain" (crossing the M!). You then decide the level of injury, again say from 1 - 5 from "Negligible" to "Death". Multiply (or add) these together and you will get a result between 1 and 25 and these will be set against pre-set action levels from "None" to "Prohibition".

The skill lies in knowing when to override the matrix. For instance a young child facing a "Possible" burn risk leading to "Negligible" injury would require a different approach from a blast fornace worker no matter what the matrix said, on distress alone.

In the scenario mentioned above, an O ring becoming brittle at low temperature , how likely? In space "Almost Certain", severity of injury "Death", 5 x 5 is 25, action "Prohibition".

This is a gross simplification of course, but will give you some idea of the methodology.

  bumpkin 21:30 01 Feb 2016

The risk is there as long as the hazard exists. Removing the hazard gives the perfect solution but of course impossible in many situations. Stop all flooding for example, idea of risk assessment is in my opinion to analyse the risk and take whatever action available though it will never be perfect.

  Forum Editor 22:35 01 Feb 2016

"In the scenario mentioned above, an O ring becoming brittle at low temperature , how likely? In space "Almost Certain", severity of injury "Death", 5 x 5 is 25, action "Prohibition"."

As Richard Feynman said: "Nature cannot be fooled."

Otherwise put: That which can go wrong, eventually will go wrong. The problem we face is that we have so far failed completely to make anything that cannot go wrong in any circumstance, or any combination of circumstances.

  morddwyd 06:26 02 Feb 2016

"dea of risk assessment is in my opinion to analyse the risk and take whatever action available though it will never be perfect."

That might be your opinion, but that's not the view of the courts. Duty holders must reduce the risk "as low as reasonably practicable".

I have done many thousands such assessments, and taught many hundreds how to do them.

I have also faced court proceedings on two occasions as a result of anonymous reporting, whistlwblowing. I beat the rap on both occasions!

Anyone really interested should read the definitive "Five Steps to Risk Assessment"

click here is the basic premise of all prosecutions in England and Wales, and by and large is also used by fiscals in Scotland.

"The problem we face is that we have so far failed completely to make anything that cannot go wrong in any circumstance, or any combination of circumstances."

Even the Almighty has not yet achieved that!

It

  jonas51 11:14 02 Feb 2016

it's actually amazing how this was an acceptable risk for them back then.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 11:32 02 Feb 2016

Nothing is perfect - and therefore there is hazard and risk in every action we undertake.

"Risk takers" are the ones that get the glory, the rewards and push the boundaries of human progress, if it all goes right.

If it goes wrong everybody else calls them idiots.

There are idiots that will undertake ventures that are way too risky

The best risk takers are not idiots and often plan beforehand to minimise risk as much as possible.

The problem occurs when someone else is makes the decisions other than the person undertaking the risk.

In engineering the problems can get evolved out however in practice humans often make the same mistakes over and over again (if it doesn't kill then in the first place).

  amonra 16:24 04 Feb 2016

It's the old saying, "You can make it fool-proof, but not idiot proof". I can't remember the number of times I have seen people doing absolutely STUPID things for no reason at all.

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

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