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Designing a Risk Matrix
A risk matrix is widely used in risk management in the workplace. It helps an organization prioritize its risks by ranking the likelihood and potential impact of every risk. After determining the severity of its risks, an organization can list the risks down in the order it chooses to address them.
A risk matrix is a tool used to visualize the level of risks by considering the category of likelihood (probability) of a threat against the category of the extent of damage (severity) caused. Risk matrices should probably be seen as results of the analysis and evaluation of risks and are essential components of the workplace's risk management program.
Risk Matrix In Safety Management
Safety professionals in the workplace often use risk matrices when assessing different incidents and hazards during the analysis of job hazards. With knowledge of the components of a risk matrix, your organization will manage risks effectively and keep all the staff and employees safe from workplace injuries and illnesses.
Health and safety risk assessments are critical in industries such as manufacturing, science labs, and constructions where work is usually done in potentially dangerous environments. The workers tend to be at risk of various hazards such as fractures from slips, severe injuries from falling, cuts from machinery, and exposures to hazardous substances.
A typical risk matrix has three components: probability, severity, and risk assessment.
- Severity: This is the amount of harm or damage that can be caused by a hazard. It's ranked on a four-point scale-catastrophic (4), critical (3), marginal (2), and negligible (1) conditions.
- Probability: It's the likelihood of occurrence of a particular risk, which is often ranked on five points as follows: frequent (5), probable (4), occasional (3), remote (2), and improbable (1).
- Risk assessment: During the risk assessment, you multiply the values for the probability and severity. The higher the value outcomes, the greater the risk.
Using Risk Matrix In Risk Management
When assessing risks in the workplace, you identify the potential threats of specific situations. Ideally, when you are aware of the potential hazards, it becomes easier to completely prevent them from happening or reduce the harm they may cause than to deal with their consequences.
The probability of occurrence and severity of the risks must be evaluated when creating a risk matrix. The risks are then entered into a system according to the values. It's simpler to make a risk matrix when you have most of the required information in the risk assessment forms.
Different colors are used when placing the risks in the risk matrix chart cells. For instance:
- Extreme risks (Red color): Extreme risks marked with the red color are prioritized because they are the most critical. It's recommended that the risk management team should immediately act in formulating an action plan to eliminate the risks completely.
- High risks (Orange): These risks also tend to call for prompt actions or risk management strategies. High risks require being resolved under strict timelines before they result in harmful situations.
- Medium risks (Yellow): Risks under this category don't usually require many resources to be addressed. However, they need reasonable measures and management strategies in time. You can handle them with logical planning and smart thinking as there's no hurry in having these risks sorted out.
- Low risks (Green): These are the risks that don't pose any significant problem in the workplace. In most instances, they are often ignored, but if the necessary steps to fight them can be taken, the better. This improves the overall performance in the workplace.
In the risk matrix chart cells, letters E, H, M, and L are used to indicate the categories Extreme risks, High risks, Medium risks, and Low risks, respectively.
Generally, a risk matrix is a visual depiction of all the risks that affect operations in the entire workplace and allows the organization to implement the necessary mitigation strategies. The following are the fundamental steps required to achieve effective risk management in the workplace using a risk matrix:
1. Risk identification
2. Risk analysis
3. Assessment of impact level
4. Risk prioritization
Management of risks should be made mandatory in any organization, even when not planning for new projects. It helps in keeping everyone informed on the potential dangers in the workplace.
It's known that risk management tools save health and safety specialists valuable resources and time spent when incidents occur in the workplace. After you have identified all potential risks within your organization, you can go further and decide on the risk controls to implement first. The mitigation measures formulated should be clearly defined, objective, and have measurable outcomes. Risk management is a continuous process, as organizational risks tend to change with time. So, your risk matrix should be periodically reviewed and updated.