Risk assessments are part of daily life. Whenever we look both ways before crossing the street, we're conducting a risk assessment. Unfortunately, we don't always make risk assessments a daily part of our business lives. Whenever we start a new project, whether it be a large-scale effort with global reach or a low-key meeting next week, we should make risk assessment part of our preparation.

Just the term "risk assessment" can make the task sound complicated and time-consuming. But for most activities, risks can be identified and addressed in a few minutes -- especially when using the Event Risk Worksheet.

Here's how it works. For each activity,  think about what can lead to:

  1. Bodily injuries
  2. Personal injuries (i.e. psychological or emotional injuries, such as discriminatory behavior)
  3. Property damage
  4. Legal risks (violations of the law that may not involve bodily injury or property damage, such as speeding while driving)
  5. Financial risks (such as costs associated with cancellation of an event)
  6. Reputational risks (something that might make your organization look bad) and
  7. Any other risks, examples of which include cyber-risk (if you're collecting personal information for a database) and medical risk (if your organization holds an event that includes a medically invasive service)

List the specific risks for each Area of Risk in the second column. Then list what you'll do to minimize or eliminate those risks in the third column. This gives you a risk mitigation plan that can be used to prevent losses and show that you've put thought and care into your activity.

A few words of advice. Every activity has risks, so don't let their existence discourage you; instead, figure out how to constructively address them.  List only the most likely risks; the risk universe is infinite, and if you seek to address every possible risk your task will be neverending. And remember that not every activity will have a risk in each category; for instance, a softball game typically won't present any personal injury risks -- unless, say, you deliberately exclude a class of participants, such as women.

For more complex activities, like starting an international operation, contact our office for assistance.