Safety Professionals use a risk matrix to assess the various risks of hazards (and incidents), often during a job hazard analysis. Understanding the components of a risk matrix will allow you and your organization to manage risk effectively and reduce workplace illnesses and injuries, including exposures to Coronavirus (COVID-19). Check out the three components of the risk matrix; severity, probability, and risk assessment that we utilize in Vector EHS Management software below.
No time to read? You can download our Risk Matrix Calculation Guide to review it at your convenience:
Severity is the amount of damage or harm a hazard could create and it is often ranked on a four point scale as follows:
Probability is the likelihood of the hazard occurring and it is often ranked on a five point scale:
Risk matrices come in many shapes and sizes. For more information on how to build a risk matrix that's right for your project, see our more detailed guide.
The Risk Assessment Values are determined by multiplying the scores for the Probability and Severity values together. The higher the risk assessment, the greater the overall risk for the project. This method helps balance the weight of severity and probability, as you can see in the following chart that displays the default risk assessment values:
After you’ve evaluated the risks of a project, you can prioritize which risk controls to implement first.
All risk mitigation activities should be clearly defined; objective, not subjective; and have specific, measurable outcomes.
Hazard identification and risk management should be processes of continuous improvement. Your organization’s risks may change over time, so you should periodically review and update your risk matrix.
Risk management tools can save health and safety professionals valuable time and resources.
Check out our hazards product information page to learn more how the Vector EHS Management software can assist you in tracking, reporting and analyzing your risks.
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to impact daily operations throughout the globe, EHS managers have been tasked with taking important measures to protect the health and safety of their workforce.
One of the ways in which EHS professionals can identify which workers are at greatest risk of being exposed to the virus is through following risk assessment processes.
In the agency’s guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has categorized job functions into four risk exposure levels. We’ve fleshed out these four divisions in the following paragraphs. When you’re determining what probability values would be useful to set for your risk matrix, it’s a good idea to use these 4 categories as a starting point.
According to OSHA, workers with a very high probability of exposure include:
Workers with a high probability of exposure include:
Lower exposure risk jobs are those that do not require contact with people known to be, or suspected of being, infected nor frequent close contact with (i.e., within 6 feet of) the general public. Workers in this category have minimal occupational contact with the public and other coworkers.
At this stage, it’s difficult to predict the effects that the virus may have upon an individual. Thus far, epidemiological evidence suggests that COVID-19 manifests as a non-severe disease in most cases. However, according to the most recent data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some groups are at higher risk of becoming severely ill from the virus. When determining values for the Severity component of your matrix, these groups should be categorized into the value assigned the highest number of points. Your other severity values may vary depending on the demographics of your workforce.
Groups at risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 include:
People who are pregnant should be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness. However, to date data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk.
Once you've completed your risk assessments, you can begin to put controls in place to mitigate exposures as best as possible.
OSHA has put together guidance for workplaces on the appropriate engineering and administrative controls, as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers with lower, medium, and high exposure risks. We've also put together a few tips on how EHS managers can develop plans to deal with the virus in the workplace.