Risk – Assessment and Management

In this blog, we are going to discuss Risk, Risk Management and Risk Assessment and various terminology used widely in marine industry.

General Definitions


The accident is an uncontrolled or unplanned event or consequence of events that results in an injury or harm to people, damage to the environment, damage to property or loss in profitability.


An incident is an accident, near miss or dangerous occurrence.

Near Miss

Any uncontrolled or unplanned event that under slightly different circumstances could have led to a loss in the form of personal injury, environmental damage or property damage.


Means an observed situation where objective evidence indicates the nonfulfillment of a specified requirement.

 Objective Evidence

Quantitative or Qualitative information, records or statements of fact pertaining to the existence and implementation of a Safety Management System element, which is based on observation, measurement or test and which can be verified.


A statement of fact made during a Safety Management Audit and substantiated by objective evidence.

It can be defined as:

  • Combination of the probability/frequency of the occurrence of a defined hazard and magnitude of the consequences or the occurrence.
  • Combination of frequency and severity of the consequences.
  • Chance of an adverse event.
  • Likelihood of a hazard being realized.

The risk is therefore a measure of the likelihood of a specific undesired event and its unwanted consequences or loss.

Risk can be related to:

  • Health and safety of those who are directly or indirectly involved in the activities or who may be involved in the chain of the work management.
  • Property of the company/vessel/equipment etc.
  • To the environment/Surrounding.
  • Financial standing and credibility of the company.

If the risk is not measured and controlled by a Company/Process/Activity, there is a high potential risk to Health, environment, and business loss.

Risk management

Image of ORM
Flow Chart of Risk Management

Risk management is the process that integrates hazard identification, risk assessment, developing strategies to manage it, and mitigation of risk using resources. It is essential to bring down / maintain the risk within tolerance/tolerable limits of the procedure /Activities/ organization.

Principle of risk management:

  1. What are the possible hazards associated with a particular process/activity?
  2. What is the risk in a specific shipboard operation?
  3. How often you or your staff is at risk.
  4. What are the consequences of the accident and the gravity of consequences?

The effective identification of hazards is the key factor in meaningful risk assessments and three questions below should be asked to assist the identification process –

– Is there a source of harm?

– Who (or what) could be harmed?

– How could the harm occur?

In any operation, hazards can fall under the following headings

– Unsafe acts

– Unsafe conditions

– Human factors

– Job factors

Information required as per work activity to identify and assess the hazards

  • Task being carried out, their duration and frequency
  • Location(s) where the work is carried out
  • Personnel who carries out the tasks and training of the personnel to perform the task, they are assigned to carry out.
  • Machinery and tools that may be used.
  • Manufacturer’s instructions for operation of the machinery/plant
  • Size, shape, surface character and weight of the materials that might be handled
  • Distances and height materials have to be moved by hand
  • Services and substances used or encountered during the.
  • Content and recommendations of MSDS data sheets relating to the substances used or encountered
  • Requirement of relevant acts, regulations, and standards relevant to the work being done
  • Reactive monitoring data such as incidents, accidents, ill health experienced associated with the work being done
  • Findings of any existing assessments relating to the work activity.
  • Accident/ incident / near misses
  • Complaints from Employees and Third parties.
  • Vessel performance in terms of breakdowns, unscheduled maintenances
  • Internal / External audits
  • Class / Flag state / PSC / third party inspections

Risk management process

The process whereby decisions are made to accept a known or assessed risk and the implementation of action to reduce the consequences or probability of occurrence.

It is a process whereby decisions are made to :

  • Accept an assessed and known Risk.
  • Implement action to reduce the consequences.
  • Implement action to reduce the probability of occurrence.

Risk assessment

The process of evaluating the risk(s) arising from a hazard(s), taking into account the adequacy of any existing controls and deciding whether or not the risk(s) is acceptable. In Simple term, it can be described as a proactive approach identification of the possibility of risk and counteractions to reduce or remove the same.

While conducting risk evaluation in relation to management of occupational safety and health shall refer to appropriate statistical information from the ships and from general statistics provided by the Flag state

Risk Control

Risk control is an action plan that sets out how the risks identified and assessed will be eliminated or controlled. A hierarchy of risk control is used to eliminate or manage the risk to as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP). Following is the Hierarchy of risk control and it ranks risk control measures in decreasing order of effectiveness

  1. Elimination: Remove the hazard. Sometimes hazards, equipment or work practices can be avoided entirely. E.g eliminating a requirement to carry out the tasks
  2. Substitution: Replace the system, material or work practice with a less hazardous one.
  3. Engineering Controls: Engineering the solution to minimize risk is highly desirable as the process reduces the reliance on human behavior to effect long-lasting positive change. There are a number of aspects to engineering controls and this may be achieved by:
  • Redesigning the way in which the work is performed.
  • Modifying the equipment to change the way the task is performed.
  • Engineer the change to the process steps to eliminate hazardous activity
  • Isolate a hazard by physically guarding the hazard, thus preventing human contact.
  • Lock a process/equipment thus preventing access by any unauthorized personnel f. Remove the hazard by engineering means such as ventilation.

4. Procedural Controls: These are the procedural aspects of managing hazards, such as work permits, isolation, lock out/tag out procedures, education and training and the rotation of staff thus minimizing exposure.

5. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Personal Protective Equipment is the last and least effective control method used. It involves wearing appropriate PPE such as gloves, safety shoes, goggles etc to isolate the person from the hazard. Any breakdown of the system immediately exposes the worker to the hazard. This control method is not highly effective because it relies totally on human behavior.

The risk control measures implemented for the hazards identified should always aim to be as high on the list as practicable. Many times, it will require more than one of the risk control measures above to effectively reduce exposure to hazards.

Review of adequacy of control measures

The control measures are reviewed before implementation by analyzing

  1. Are the risks reduced to acceptable levels?
  2. Whether any new hazards are created in the progress?
  3. Is this the most effective solution chosen?
  4. Whether revised control used in practice and not ignored due to pressures to get the job done?



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Anurag Singh

He is working as an engineer in Synergy Marine Group. He is alumni of Marine Engineering & Research Institute(MERI) Mumbai. With his versatile talents, he loves to play cricket and write blogs. Speciality: Tanker operations

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