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Risk Management Frequently Asked Questions

What is risk?
Risk is the chance, high or low, of somebody being harmed by the hazard, and how serious the harm could be

What is a hazard?
A hazard is anything that may cause harm, eg chemicals, electricity, working from ladders, noise etc.

How do I do a risk assessment?
To do a risk assessment, you need to understand what, in your work, might cause harm to people and decide whether you are doing enough to prevent that harm. Once you have decided that, you need to identify and prioritize putting in place, appropriate and sensible control measures.

Start by:

  • identifying what can harm people in your workplace
  • identifying who might be harmed and how
  • evaluating the risks and deciding on the appropriate controls, taking into account the controls you already have in place
  • recording your risk assessment
  • reviewing and updating your assessment

What is Risk Management?
There are two answers to this question:

  1. Risk Management is an office charged with the responsibility of assessing where losses can occur and to find appropriate risk mitigation measures to address each exposure.
  2. Broken down it can be defined as: Risk relates to exposure to the effects of accidental loss; & Management is the process of planning, organizing, leading and controlling the resources and activities of an organization to fulfill its objectives.

The benefit of risk management is to increase the likelihood that the goals and objectives of the Agency will successfully support the vision/mission by ensuring levels of risk and uncertainty in daily operations is properly managed. It enables those involved to identify possible risk, the manner in which they can be contained or eliminated, and the likely cost of mitigation strategies.

What is a Risk Management Safety Committee and who should be on it?
Often we are so busy running around in our nonprofit worlds that taking time out to focus on risk management can seem daunting. Many organizations designate a “risk manager” or a committee charged with the responsibility for identifying risks and suggesting ways to reduce Agency exposures. An effective committee is one that is comprised of a diverse group of employee’s who interact and work within the Agency in different departments and therefore may be able to identify a wider spectrum of risks. However, risk management is most effective when everyone, from senior management to entry level staff, to interns/volunteers—and even consultants—is alert to risks and asks “what can go wrong?” and is encouraged to make suggestions and find creative solutions to prevent employee injuries, harm to property and reputation, and financial loss.

How should we prioritize all the possible risks facing our organization?
To prioritize your risk management ‘to do’ list, you need to determine which risks are most likely to occur, as well as which risks will result in the most severe harm. This exercise is called a “risk assessment.” For some organizations, losing power or water damage due to severe weather may be a frequent occurrence that has been successfully managed so that if it happens in the future there may be minimal disruption and financial impact; while for others, a catastrophic loss such as an employee fatality, may be extremely unlikely given the supervision and safety procedures in place, but, because of the severity of the loss, risk management procedures surrounding worksite safety are a high priority for that agency.

What is the difference between a risk and an issue?
An issue is a problem or concern that may impede the progress of your organization goals and objectives if not addressed.
A risk is any factor (or threat) that may adversely affect the successful completion of goals and objectives in term of achievement of its outcomes, delivery of services or adverse effects upon resourcing, time, cost and quality.

When is a risk no longer a risk?
A risk is no longer a risk when it is no longer is a factor (or threat) that may adversely affect the successful goal obtainment and mission of the Agency. This is usually as a result of mitigation strategies taken, if the threat has been realized, or if there has been a change in the environment that makes that risk no longer relevant.