A risk refers to potential for an incident, accident or near miss to occur as a result of a hazard. Assessing risk is about deciding how likely it is that this will happen – something that you do as part of day-to-day living, often without realising it.
Risk assessment is based on answering two questions:
- How likely is it that a hazardous event will occur?
- How severe would the injury or illness or outcome be if it did occur?
Risk = severity of consequences x likelihood of occurrence
As you consider crossing a busy street, you assess your chances of being hit by a car and make your decision based on the flow of traffic.
You assess the risk based on your knowledge that the fewer cars there are and the further away they are, the less the risk of being hit by a car and injured.
Based on your assessment, you choose to either cross the street now or wait for fewer cars. If the road is very busy, you might reduce the risk further by walking on until you reach a marked pedestrian crossing or traffic lights.
Sample assessment of risk
Manual handling risks – aged care. Queensland Workplace Health and Safety Strategy Health and Community Services Industry Action Plan 2004–2007.