It is important to ensure that controls to mitigate high risks are maintained as it is invariably a failed control that precipitates an incident.
There are many tools for assessing risks including the Australian Standard Risk Matrix but the tool used is not that important. What is important is to achieve a relative risk ranking to determine priorities and then assess mitigation options. While the rule of thumb is to address the areas of greatest exposure first it may not always be practical to do so.
There are many facets to the preparation of an accurate Risk and Opportunity Register but it is critical to have a good understanding of:
- The receiving environment
- The potential impacts of operational activities
- Legal obligations
- Community expectations
The context for each of these aspects is continually changing but in most situations it can be assumed that the risk will remain unchanged unless some improvement actions are implemented. The challenge is to obtain maximum risk mitigation with available resources and in the first instance three things need to be considered for each significant risk.
- Is the activity absolutely necessary and what other options do we have?
- Is it possible to Engineer it out and what will that cost?
- Can we reduce the risk by improving procedures and work-force competence?
The resource requirement in combination with the degree of risk mitigation helps prioritise the improvement programmes. Once this is done targets can be set based on the anticipated effectiveness of each improvement project.