What is your risk priority?

Or risk management in the real world.

For the past few months, I have started to use the term ‘risk priority’ to describe how to manage emerging risks in the moment.

A lot of the places we work are dynamic in nature. Maybe we are moving through an environment or we are in one place and the environment is changing or has changed since our last visit. This can occur both in the outdoor and industrial arena.

There are often competing risks trying to grab our attention that we need to manage in some way.

Can you actively manage all risks at all times? You might think you do. There might be a piece of paper that says so but is this reality? Can you and do you actually need to?

As an example, I was out canyoning on top of a 45m pitch we had been lots of times before. I was managing the anchor so my risk priority was the height safety elements. As I moved to the side to let the first person onto the abseil rope a basketball sized rock moved in my hand.

So guess what, my risk priority changed. My choices: do nothing, ignore that it moved, stand in a different location so not to disturb the rock, get rid of the rock or find a different abseil point.

So what I did was pulled up the abseil rope, and got rid of the rock. As it was the only loose one in the area it seemed like the best solution.

I didn’t stop managing the height elements but at that moment potential rockfall was the risk priority that I needed to deal with.

Given the context and familiarity of the environment, your awareness of the risks is the key element. Your awareness based recognition and action are needed to manage risk in a suitable way.

Is this not risk management in the real world.

What is your risk priority?

Photo by Nola Collie

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