Risk assessment is a “mouth full” for describing day to day activities carried out by a normative human individual.
Most of us have found ourselves on the edge of a sidewalk seconds before we are about to cross the road with heavy traffic activity. We try to evaluate:
a) How dense is the traffic and from what direction ?
b) How fast is the general traffic travelling at?
c) Is there a Junction, Traffic signals on route??
d) Is there a pedestrian, ”Zebra” crossing in our vicinity?
We automatically take into consideration in our elaborations general lighting conditions (Dark or light) , our physical condition including restrictions i.e.
a)Are we on high heels…slowing our progress?
b) Are we pushing a pram with a baby?
c) Are we carring shopping bags in both hands?
- We have a task at hand: Crossing the road and arriving safely on the other side.
- We have a Time frame to adhere to; in this case as soon as possible.
- We have Human factors to consider ; How aware are we? Are we tired ,after a long days work? How fast can we travel the distance and cross ?
- We have environmental factors ; type of vehicles, traffic load, lighting ,weather conditions etc…
- We have technical factors (using a mobility unit to aid us, other equipment involved??)
Assessing risk is a department within management dealing with identifying the HAZARDS evaluating the risks and arriving at a operational solution that will reduce the risk or minimize it all together.
Studying and evaluating this field has brought large organizations, companies and individuals to realise the importance of implementing a suitable risk assessment system to find solutions to hazards and risks involved in their day to day activities operating in different environments and conditions with various machines, tools, vehicles.
Like in the above example – Crossing a road
We assess the risk (run over by a vehicle). We reduce the level of risk using controls i.e
Crossing on a pedestrian crossing, crossing when lights show green, wearing a reflective aid, inspecting continuously the road from left to right.
Still there remains a risk , but we have lowered the risk to an acceptable level by implementing the assessment process and initlizing controls.
We have created a safer crossing procedure!!
From the above we understand that on a daily base there are endless Hazards involving numerous risks that require our split second decisions based on analizing (assessing) and implementing measures(controls).
We are part of an ongoing process called “RISK ASSEESSMENT” that is slowly becoming second nature, a culture, a way of thinking.
Prior to us facing the crossing , the local authorities tackled the same issues in the design stage of the road and accordingly implemented measures and controls to reduce the risks i.e. marked pedestrian crossings, installed traffic lights etc…
Now we can see how we have to behave in other environments and what Warning Signs we will need to install for those within our Group, Crew, Organization.
We have dealt with Dangers and Hazards but does risk entail???
RISK is any act, activity, occurrence that may cause us or others damage. On the other hand , if we “take no chance”we will stay stuck in one place never progressing.
If we sit at home all day, not crossing any roads, not entering a higher risk environment, our chances of being injured or damage caused to us will be at a minimum level … we will never progress, evolve and develop…..boring or what??!
In Organizations such as Airline, Shipping, Armies and other structures an Organizational Safety culture is created and implemented .On one hand, will know how to “Take” Calculated Risks and on the other implement controls and take actions to reduce risks to an acceptable minimum Level.
We can now venture out to sea (Hazardous Environment) and sail in relative safety ,even in uncharted waters.
A Safety Culture and Behaviour
Safety Culture is layed down by the head of the organization, group . In our case the GM- General Manager. In his foot steps follow the Managers, Captains Officers down to the last Rating.
A Safety culture within an organizitaion requires a system of thinking ,analyzing and applying experience and logic .
We are required to conduct:
thorough and truthfull debriefing and investigations.
Re-establishing risk assessments to all Hazards activities and procedures.
Creating a reliable , controllable and open to inspection reporting format that reaches all .
A safety Culture should become a way of life for the Captain and his crew.
The more we implement this culture and behaviour involving:
Briefing, De-briefing, Investigations and seeking conclusions allowing us to question our way of thinking ,procedures and actions.
It is a system where the the mile stones require us to be completely open and truthful when approaching our assessments. Using only the facts and no fiction.
We use a three tier system as the foundation of our actions:
Allowing all the above , we can reduce levels of risk to an acceptable level .
This is followed by a reduction of accidents involving vessel and crew .
Bottom line , we can reduce injuries and damage to personnal and property saving us time and money.
It is a case of economical logic and efficincey that lead many organizations to go down this path.
- Risk Assessment in the Marine Environment
In the marine environment, on a yacht, we are initially in an unnatural environment to human beings. (Fish… OK)
- The vessel itself is a safety issue as the environment incorporates hazardous materials , i.e. petrol with electrics, pyrotechnic flares and all in a wet , humid surrounding.
- The nature of the vessel design incorporating narrow and low passage ways, steep staircase, vertical ladders and all in a rolling sea doesn’t add to crews safety.
So what can the crew onboard do???
YES – Assess the risks and implement actions to reduce them to an acceptable level.
Going back to the example we started of with Crossing the Road,
We want to do it but not at the cost of jumping in and getting run over. We will conduct a set of actions in order to allow us a safe crossing.
- Understanding the Action/Control outcome.
One of the most important issues in risk assessment is fully understanding the the impact of our choosen actions or as we phrase this “what will happen if…”
i.e. What will happen if I decide to run across the road (action) ??? I think the answer
lies within our action.
In the marine environment activities are complex involving technical components and machinery, use of highly skilled equipment and tools, large quantity of human beings on a set area . These activities need to be conducted in a set time frame and some running in parallel. Here the Question of “What if…”(related to action/control) is a much more complex issue.
Lets take for example a basic vessel activity: ANCHORING
3.1 Use of chain,deck fittings,tools,anchor in excess of 300Kg
3.2 Crew in numbers and confined area, Bow deck.
3.3 Platform rooling, windy, water spray etc…
3.4 Control, Communication lines to bridge and engine room.
- Question “How do we conduct an effective risk assessment as such???”
Answer - Risk assessment is an activity, procedure that we must conduct prior to sailing. The stage is preparation and the earlier we do this the better.
4.1 We take the main factors – Human, Technical, Environment and see the RISKS involved.
4.2 Then we try and reduce each risk by looking at two main categories within each factor. “What is the frequency of occurrence-likely to be” and “How serious would the outcome result by not taking any further actions in reducing the risk”
4.3 We apply the controls and actions and recalculate our risk factor
4.4 Even So, we do not stop there. It is an ongoing process and we are building the culture within our company. Continue assessing while conducting the procedure , evaluate each step and reassess as required. (anchor chain misalignment in windless, anchor is dragging and not holding etc…)
4.5 Our assessment is dictated by a set procedure. In reality the actual factors differ according to the conditions in place. This requires us to reassess and view the procedure in a Macro environment.
- Here is a working sample of a Risk Assessment applied to Anchoring.
a) Involved in the process, Captain+Bosun+OOW+DeckHand(windless operator)+Engineer
b) Locate the risks by sub dividing to three Tiers:
Human Factor, Environmental Factor, Technical Factor
Crew Fatigue (long passage,sea condition, min. Crew)
Lack of professional Knowledge(new Bosun, new crew,lack of briefing,lack of training,new equipment,)
Communication (language barrier, bridge to deck distance)
Sea state, roll pitch
Light and visability condition (fog, rain)
External Noise level (vessels adjacent)
Windless electro/hydraulic complex system
Anchor – weight and dimensions, not controllable after casting
Chain- Heavy and fast action
Working under heavy stress factors.
- Locate the Hazards and their relevant risks – what can happen if??
c.1 Yacht motion, roll pitch – slipping on deck – injury
Lack of training, Knowledge – crew members positioned wrong – injury
c.2 Environmental noise – Bosun can not hear instructions from Captain – Early Casting of Anchor, damage to vessel
c.3 Weather conditions – rain and low temp. Combined with long anchor procedure, slow approach. – Bow party suffer cold and this creates anxiety and temper elevating wrong operations during the procedure.
c.4 Chain released – moving equipment – hazard to adjacent crew – can catch clothing, hair, limbs.
C5. Windless and Capstan –heavy and complex equipment, if not maintained correctly can cause breakdown resulting in serious crew injury.
- Reducing the Risk applying controls!
c1 – Captain manovers in respect to sea conditions. Alerts crew prior to course change, assign crew watch for waves abeam, employ stabilizers, add crew- Brief crew, simulate operations, emphasis safety instructions, training prior and after.
C2- Use communication sets, earphones,loudhailer. Use sign language AS BRIEFED.
C3- Proper clothing for crew including wet weather gear and thermals or sunglasses and hats in extreme heat. Proper foot gear, safety harness. Allow crew a hot/cold beverage prior to activity.
C4- briefing to include position of crew. Release mechanism checked prior. Professional crew to conduct activity.
C5- Check unit has been maintained according to schedule. Inspect and test prior to activity. Revise operating instructions and crew familiar. Breifing, safety.
Reassess risk levels after controls implemented.
Have they reached an agreeable level?
YES ==>> Continue to next procedure.
NO ==>> Return and assess procedure .
So far we have assesst our actions using our intuition , know how and experience.
We need to quantify and set some standard to see if we have lowered the risk to an acceptable standard.
Globaly this issue has been tackled creating international acceptable standards and modules.
Table A. Matrix identifying levels of risk
|Impact of Loss||Very High||High||Moderate||Low|
The ratings in the matrix can be interpreted using the explanation shown in Table B.
Table B. Interpretation of the risk ratings
|These risks are high. Countermeasures recommended to mitigate these risks should be implemented as soon as possible.|
|These risks are moderate. Countermeasure implementation should be planned in the near future.|
|These risks are low. Countermeasure implementation will enhance security, but is of less urgency than the above risks.|
MVMSYSTEM utilizes a RISK ASSESSMENT Module built to British Industry Standards and at the front of Technology.
The Module uses a mathematical Algorithm and analysis both quantise and classify.
MVM takes all the factors involved and analyzes using the three tier structure, similar to our example.
The management team utilizes its vast experience, database and professional marine knowledge in order to categorize and adopt the module to correctly incorporate the calculations allowing to readjust our risk levels and bring them to an acceptable level.
As we introduce actions and controls into our assessment we will bring the risk levels down creating a new level , lower then the inital with the help of the algorithm and mathematical calculations.
IN NO WAY DOES THIS MEAN THAT THE SOFTWARE OR HARDWARE CAN SPECIFY ANY OF THE HAZARDS OR RISKS ONBOARD !!!
The software module used by MVM is one of the tools allowing to better organize all details acquired during the risk assessment procedure. This is done by a professional team in MVM in cooperation with the vessel Captain and crew.
This Process is a never ending one. Updating and refreshing in accordance with the yachts situation, location, crew, condition etc…
6. Reality and life in a variety of Colours and Shades:
Life is not in Black and White but comes in all shades from pink to grey. It is not possible to assess and identify all Risks and Hazards.
There is always a chance of overlooking an issue when conducting a risk assessment. Knowing this fact will allow us to input a factor into our assessments that must deal with this problem. We have to allow for unaccounted, unidentified risks occurring. If we take our example of crossing the road we didn’t evaluate a scenario where a vehicle is moving in opposite directions of the natural flowing traffic….he decides to reverse!!! Or a car decides to disobey the traffic lights and continue although the lights have changed to red.
As we have analyzed the risk assessment as an ongoing process we will be able to tackle unexpected developments during the process. In our example, we are crossing after assessing and implementing
necessary controls and as we are stepping into the road we hear an oncoming siren indicating an ambulance approaching at high speed. We reassess and decide to step back and delay our crossing.
The Risk we did not calculate or expect (residual risk) is one that the outcome will be negligible or might cause us a major problem leading us to a Hazard situation.
We can summarize the above with the following formula: