The Role of Risk Assessment Matrices

The Role of Risk Assessment Matrices

19 Dec 2023

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This informal CPD article ‘The Role of Risk Assessment Matrices’, was provided by Synergen Oil and Gas UK, an independent engineering consultancy specialising in Process Safety, Technical Risk Management and Operational Safety services.

Safeguarding health, safety, and the environment (HSE) stands as a paramount responsibility across diverse industries. The effectiveness of HSE risk management profoundly impacts worker well-being, environmental preservation, and an organization's standing.

Within this context, the process of risk assessment, a systematic approach to recognizing, analysing, and evaluating potential hazards, plays a pivotal role. Risk Assessment Matrices (RAMs) emerge as crucial tools in visualizing and prioritizing risks.

The Risk Assessment Process

Navigating the risk assessment process involves distinct steps to ensure a comprehensive grasp of hazards and their potential consequences:

1. Identification of Hazards

Pinpoint potential hazards, spanning chemicals to machinery, through a thorough examination of work conditions and activities.

2. Analysis of Risks

Gauge the likelihood and potential severity of hazards, facilitating the prioritization of risks based on their perceived significance.

3. Evaluation of Risks

Render informed decisions about the acceptability of risks, weighing legal mandates, industry benchmarks, and organizational policies.

What is a Risk Assessment Matrix?

Risk Assessment Matrices (RAMs) manifest as visual aids featuring a grid with axes denoting an event's likelihood and its consequences' severity. This matrix swiftly identifies high-priority risks, offering a structured framework for assessment and directing resources towards the most significant hazards to achieve an "As Low As Reasonably Practical" (ALARP) state.

How to Employ a Risk Assessment Matrix

Effectively harnessing a RAM entails a systematic approach:

1. Hazards Identification

Execute workplace inspections, peruse incident reports, and consult subject matter experts to uncover potential hazards.

2. Risk Analysis

Evaluate each hazard by considering the likelihood of occurrence and the severity of consequences, drawing from historical data, expert insights, or industry standards.

3. Plotting Risks on the Matrix

Attribute ratings based on the likelihood and impact of each risk, then chart them on the matrix, visually portraying the relative significance of different risks.

4. Prioritizing Mitigation Actions

Sequence mitigation actions based on risk placement, addressing high-risk issues first, followed by those of moderate and low-risk.

Benefits and Challenges of Risk Assessment Matrices


1. Transparent Prioritization: RAMs unveil and prioritise risks, channelling efforts and resources towards critical areas.

2. Facilitated Risk Communication: Visual representation simplifies stakeholder communication, fostering a shared understanding.

3. Facilitates Mitigation Planning: RAMs empower organizations to devise apt mitigation strategies based on risk categorization.


1. Subjectivity Concerns: Inconsistent outcomes may arise due to the subjective nature of likelihood and severity ratings.

2. Challenges in Likelihood Evaluation: Estimating the likelihood of rare or unpredictable incidents can prove challenging.

Integration of Risk Assessments into Safety Management Systems

Weaving risk assessments into Safety Management Systems (SMS) proves essential for cultivating a proactive safety culture. This integration ensures that risk assessments seamlessly intertwine with the broader safety management process, allowing organizations to regularly revisit and revise assessments in response to evolving conditions.

Best Practices for Risk Assessment Matrices

1. Regular Revisions

Routinely review and update risk assessments to accommodate changes in the workplace, operations, or regulatory landscape.

2. Involvement of the Workforce

Foster engagement from workers at all levels, fostering a sense of ownership and enriching the accuracy of assessments.

3. Training and Clarity

Impart training and provide clear guidance on RAM usage to ensure uniformity and precision in risk evaluations.

4. Integration with Incident Management

Forge connections between risk assessments and incident management systems, facilitating the evaluation of control effectiveness and pinpointing areas for enhancement.

5. Culture of Continuous Enhancement

Instil a culture of continuous improvement, ensuring that risk assessment processes adapt to changing circumstances, enabling proactive risk management.


The adept utilisation of risk assessment matrices proves indispensable in HSE risk management. Organisations can cultivate safer workplaces by adhering to structured risk assessment processes, incorporating RAMs seamlessly into safety management systems, and allocating resources judiciously through a structured risk assessment process. Despite challenges, the benefits rendered by risk assessment matrices position them as invaluable tools across diverse industries.

We hope this article was helpful. For more information from Synergen Oil and Gas UK, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively, you can go to CPD Industry Hubs for more articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.  

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Synergen Oil and Gas UK

Synergen Oil and Gas UK

For more information from Synergen Oil and Gas UK, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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