strategy

Assessing risk

Synonyms:
Preparing risk assessments
Calculating hazard
Analysing risk
Making risk assessment
Evaluating risk
Description:
Communication about risks often amounts to communicating the results of risk assessment. Therefore the question of how risks are assessed is of central relevance.

Most risks and hazards in modern society are not inevitable but rather arise as the direct or indirect outcome of human activities. The backdrop to any policy on risk communication must be the goal of reducing and where possible eliminating avoidable hazards. Risk communication should not be a process whereby government or industry attempts to make avoidable hazards appear more acceptable to the public, with the hazard presented as a "given".

Context:
Risk assessment can be a powerful tool when dealing with well delineated systems, where the hazards are well defined (e.g. traffic).

Aside from the difficulty of accurately and confidently quantifying risks, the question of their public acceptability depends on a range of other issues which involve subjective value judgements. This implies a need for broad societal input into decision-making on risks, the role of value judgements and the treatment of scientific uncertainty in risk assessment.

Implementation:
Governments should encourage maximization of the identification and quantification of hazards within any given risk assessment, thus reducing as far as possible the number of assumptions related to modelling. As regards the assumptions that remain, it is important that these are clearly stated and that the precautionary principle is rigorously applied.
Claim:
***.
Counter Claim:
Risk assessments without adequate hazard assessments simply provide options for choice.

2. Risk assessment is used as the main instrument to prevent invocation of the precautionary principle. When hazards are impossible to quantify avoidable risks must be avoided. Risk assessment has also been applied all too frequently in the past to complex systems where the hazards are poorly defined and/or completely unpredictable (e.g. genetically modified organisms). This has contributed in some part to the increasing scepticism with which the public has treated health and safety information in recent decades.

3. Risk assessments save companies money since they involve no measurements.

4. Risk assessment is a technique that can be manipulated to reach any conclusion the risk assessor wishes to reach.

Subjects:
Mathematics
Analytics
Assessment
Hazards
Evaluation
Type Classification:
F: Exceptional strategies