What is a risk assessment?

A risk assessment is an effort that is made to identify what risks may be present in a given area, with the goal of finding ways to reduce or eliminate those hazards. In addition, when assessing a risk it is necessary to try to identify what will happen should that risk take place. There are many ways that a risk assessment can be done, and it will often be a key component of improving workplace safety and disaster recovery.

Risk assessment Process

Man stands at the edge on a cliff in front of a tight-rope. Below the tight-rop is a river of crocodiles. Man is looking at the crocodiles and tight-rope.

When going through a risk assessment you need to identify several different things. The main components of a good risk assessment will include:

  • Type of Hazard – This is going to be what type of risk you are assessing. For example, fires, chemical spills, terrorism, utility outages, mechanical breakdown, cyber attack, and many others.
  • What is At Risk – Understanding what assets are at risk is the next major step. Examples of assets that may be at risk include employees, customers, physical property, supply chain, technology, reputation, and more.
  • Impacts – What will the impact on those items at risk should the hazard occur? Examples of this could be employee injuries or fatalities, property damage, loss of customers, environmental impact, fines or penalties, and others.

Examples of Risk Assessments

There are many ways that risks can be assessed in a given situation. Looking at various real-world risk assessments can help to give guidance on how it can be done. One example of a risk assessment could be how a workplace will respond in the event that a tornado goes through the area. The type of hazard in this case is going to be the tornado, at risk is the facility, employees, supply chain, and potentially other things. The impact could be property damage, employee injury or fatality, and much more. Once you have gone through the risk assessment, you can make decisions on how to best mitigate the potential hazards.


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