By Sphera’s Editorial Team | March 6, 2017

This blog is the second of a four-part series: Using Risk Ranking to Drive Behaviors, Efficiencies, and Insights

What if a deer runs in front of one of your vehicles on the highway and the driver has to hit the brakes? That’s a near-miss, right, but is it high risk?

The answer is: It depends on the perspective.

At the site or business-unit level, that near-miss could be considered a high risk especially in states such as West Virginia, Montana and Pennsylvania where deer-related accidents happen at a high rate. These types of encounters should definitely be tracked. However, these near-incidents don’t require the attention of leadership and are considered low-risk at the corporate level.

We’re not dismissing the potential dangers of hitting an animal with a vehicle, but tracking near-misses between company equipment and shy hoofed forest dwellers as part of your risk-reduction initiatives is probably not that useful at the corporate level. The startled worker driving the vehicle might think otherwise and deem it a high-risk situation for the company and report it as such. However, as a company it doesn’t really move the needle in terms of tracking a potential dangerous incident that demands a quick reaction and initiative beyond the business unit. It also has the potential to distract from more serious risks taking place elsewhere in the company.

Compare that near-miss to this example: What if a workforce trailer gets too close to an isomerization process unit where molecules are being rearranged and hazardous materials are present.

That’s a true high-risk situation, and those types of incidents should be investigated and addressed with rigor. Recognizing and tracking the potential severity of such situations serve as excellent teaching moments for organizations to share what they learned with other divisions of the company.

Being successful at risk management means focusing on quality rather than quantity, and that’s where Risk Ranking comes in.

Without a risk-based approach to event management, the following issues will persist:

  1. The organization reacts to occurred events based on their severity and will miss high-risk problems that are revealed through lower-consequence incidents or near misses.
  2. The organization could be flooded with event reports and struggle with focus of time and resources.
  3. The company might get an abundance of low-quality events (such as our deer example) but few events that have actual risk-reduction opportunities.
  4. The organization’s culture might be less risk-sensitive since the process focuses on severity of actual incidents.
  5. Fewer true metrics are available for continuous improvement.

What Can Companies Do?

What qualifies as appropriate risk might be challenging to assess unless you are able to incorporate a proper Risk Ranking system to drive behaviors, efficiencies and insights.

A successful Risk Ranking implementation strategy takes a solid plan that focuses on four things:

  1. Designing the right process.
  2. Equipping the right roles to do the risk ranking.
  3. Implementing the appropriate software.
  4. Governing the process via leadership and metrics.

Sphera’s solutions can help you manage incidents and near-incidents to help your company be properly prepared. Using a risk-assessment matrix, our incident management software can enable the right level of response and allow companies to be proactive in preventing future incidents from occurring.

To learn more about Risk Ranking, you can watch our webinar, “Using Risk Ranking to Drive Behaviors, Efficiencies, and Insights.” There you’ll be able to learn the challenges companies face with high incident management reporting rates and why Risk Ranking is an important component of a company’s incident management process.