Simple Risk Assessments

Submitted: Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 12:16
ThreadID: 32206 Views:3476 Replies:6 FollowUps:17
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As a follow on to Footloose (Post 32203), this may be appropriate. His scenario is vastly different to ours and would likely require some different solutions.

I am aware that there are excellent articles on risk in the Trip Planning section and I do not wish to detract in any way. I'm sure the clever people that wrote them would prefer them discussed rather than just read.

This may be of assistance to a few (more so the inexperienced) on this forum. I am in the planning stages and wish to identify risk, so use a KISS model of Risk Assessment. I do not take this too seriously; some may consider it nonsense. It is what most do naturally when embarking on higher risk ventures, however it gives ideas a structure. Bit of fun really. Taken to the extreme, risk alleviation is not doing it at all, or legislating to prevent it.

Do not confuse me with an expert, many of you are more capable & experienced in this area than I ever will be. Input is appreciated. Non-expert input is also appreciated; experts sometimes become tunnel visioned. (Should have insulted everybody there LOL)

Step 1 is to work out what you actually want to do. Mine is:

Scenario: 6 x grumpy old men (30 - 60) in 3 vehicles travelling from Victoria to Simpson Desert to Alice across Gary Junction to Kurawaritji Community down Canning Stock Route to Wiluna back along Gunbarrel to Uluru to Coober Pedy and home. July/Aug. 3 have travelled Simpson more than once. None have ventured past Alice. 1 is insulin dependent, the rest of us are just wearing out slowly.

Step 2 is having sufficient knowledge to make an informed guess on what you are actually likely to face. Can be from similar experience and/or others. This site is a prime resource.

Step 3 is to identify your risk factors. Draw up a list of the potential problems you think you may face in your scenario (perhaps jamming them into broad categories) and filter them through the following process

FREQUENCY: This is the perceived likelihood of an event occurring (scored 1 Unlikely - 5 Definite). I have not got the number of incidents per 10,000 or whatever (if they exist), so this has to be a gut feeling.

IMPACT: This is the possible effect on comfort (scored 1 Inconvenient - 5 Potentially Life Threatening).

SCORE: The 2 previous figures are added to give a score out of 10. I personally would not bother with scores of 5 or less, as they are potentially problems rather than risky situations. Personality Clash: likely to rear its ugly head (3) but just annoys everyone (1) = 4. Flat Tyre: Probable (4) but just has to be fixed (1) = 5. (20 flats might be different). Does not mean you cannot look at mitigation, but it should not be life threatening of itself.

Step 4 is to think of ways to mitigate the impact of your identified risks. It is not necessary to do everything conceivable to eradicate the risk, you can't; the underlying risk remains, with the greatest risk being a combining of some or all. You need to do what you can until you feel comfortable accepting the risk.

Mine has ended up looking like this. Possibly a bit of overkill (for someone with local knowledge & experience the risk score & mitigation may reduce considerably), but it's a good place for our group to start. Some mitigation has been looked at, but rejected for one reason or another

Medical/Injury Situation 3 + 5 = 8
Sat Phone (Emerg Nos Police, RFDS, Hospitals)
Medical Kit (1st Aid, Trauma)
1st Aid Qualifications in Group
Specialist Advice on recog & treat Diabetes
Knowledge of Alt Routes / Air Strips / Civilisation

Vehicle Breakdown / Accident 3 + 4 = 7
Pre Trip Mechanical Check PV
Pre Trip practice with equipment
2 x winches in party (user knowledge)
Dual Battery PV
Tow Ropes, snatch straps, cables & shackles
2 x spares + 2 tubes + Patches + Valves PV
Air Compressor PV
Tools (engine, tyres, electrical) PV
Spares (engine, suspension)
Mechanic in party (carries his workshop!!!)
Tools recovery (Spades, Jacks) PV
Spare belts, hoses, filters, fuses, wiring PV
Gaffer Tape, Duct Tape, Putty & Fencing Wire
Full change of engine oil, transmission oil PV
Sand Flag & Scanning UHF CB PV
Intention forms left
Knowledge of fuel supply points
Sat Phone (Recovery Option Nos)
20% more fuel to requirements PV

Remote Navigation 1 + 5 = 6
GPS & computer mapping (paper backup)
Map Reading Qualifications in group

Food/Water 1 + 5 = 6
5 x day ration packs PP surplus to food requirements
Minimum perishables
15 litres of water PP surplus to requirements
Water in separate 20L containers

PV = per vehicle
PP = per person

Have I identified our risks correctly?
Has anyone some practical mitigation strategies?
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Reply By: Member - Luxoluk - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 12:47

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 12:47
I haven't read the material on this site but I reckon you are well on the way.
My approach has been to IDENTIFY the possible risks, and there are many, and develop strategies to mitigate against them or alternatively recognise and accept a level of risk. There are limits to what we can carry!!
Firstly establish the CONSEQUENCE of the risk arising and rate it, then
Rate the LIKELIHOOD of the risk occuring.

Simple rating scale of 1-5 where 1 is low can be used. You may consider a multiple of these factors above 8 warrants a plan or contingency to be worked out.

Part of your plan should address recovery, ie if it happens what do we do, options etc. You do not necessarily need to resolve every possibilty that can arise from where you physically are but having thought through the options sure does help and others being aware of those options is essential, ie a risk plan that everyone on the trip can rely upon should the risk become a reality.

Start from a premise that your vehicle catches fire....Consequence, liklihood, mitigation plan, recovery?? Cheers..and have a great trip knowing that you have plans!!
AnswerID: 163135

Follow Up By: PK Eildon (VIC) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 12:54

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 12:54
We are probably sufficiently resourceful to attempt drag out if we have to, but have the Sat phone with recovery options nos in worst case. I dare say we may be wiser but poorer if that one is used.
FollowupID: 417892

Reply By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 13:28

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 13:28
G'day PK,

Not bad, but I reckon a little more work on the breakdown could be useful. For example, a number of flat tyres (more than the spares you carry) is a real and serious risk that can be mitigated with tubes, patches tyre pliers, compresor, tyre levers and possibly like tyres in group vehicles. I guess what I'm saying is that a breakdown can occur many different ways and whilst you have a list of possible solutions there is no indication that you are addressing a particular problem. It is near impossible to address all concerns IMO but it is nice if you have given it some thought and considered how you plan to respond. This helps tremendously with packing as well. Interestingly in our recent trips we have become more independant even though we are travelling in a group, in earlier trips we use to share the carrying of equipment (and we still do to some extent) we have been caught out when a member of the party wanted to go home early taking some essential gear with them.

The thing about risk assessment is that people feel a need to address every concern with a perfect solution - or they do none at all for it can become too hard. The trick is to be aware of the risks and see if they be mitigated or removed altogether. Be sure that the risk exists and ignoring it will not be removing the risk.

Kind regards
AnswerID: 163143

Follow Up By: PK Eildon (VIC) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 13:41

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 13:41
Thanks for the reply. May not stand out, but we have included tubes, patches, etc and seperately Tools (tyres) to try and cover a real bad run. Like the idea of like gear, and thought about it, but we are already well established as different. As much as possible we are trying to make each vehicle independently sufficient. I seem to recall in my hiking days the saying 'a fool and his pack are soon parted". Perhaps not that inappropriate for vehicles.
FollowupID: 417904

Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 13:57

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 13:57
No sweat, was also wandering about a workshop manual which is also useful unless you know your vehicles, I was surprised that my fuel pump is under the drivers seat - really frustrating if you don't know. I also take a small personal EPIRB in a very small backpack with some survival stuff, it is amazing how easy people seem to get lost and have all their gear in the car.

Kind regards
FollowupID: 417909

Follow Up By: PK Eildon (VIC) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 14:07

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 14:07
Must admit the workshop manual slipped under the radar. Good one. Our mechanic is good, but what happens if he is knocked out of the picture. The rest of use are handy, but not technical. As a group we are comfortable with a good Sat Phone.
FollowupID: 417912

Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 14:15

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 14:15
Now I'm not trying to convince you on the EPIRB but have to relate a story. People we know had friends who had an accident out bush, their car rolled. They had no means of communication as they normally relied on a sat phone (didn't have it on that particular trip) so they had to wait for passing traffic. That convinced me to have a sat phone and EPIRB and also I take a GPS, a set of marine flares and electric flares. Most of the stories I've read about people getting in trouble seems to involve a fair bit of time and darkness.

Kind regards
FollowupID: 417914

Follow Up By: PK Eildon (VIC) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 14:26

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 14:26
Don't get me wrong. Think EPIRB, and HF are great additions, but we have discussed them and at this stage comfortable without them. Things are open to change however.
Maybe I'm different but I like time and darkness, provided I'm asleep and warm :)
FollowupID: 417915

Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 15:46

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 15:46
An EPIRB will cost you $250 and fit in your shirt pocket.

- what if your Satphone fails
- what if you have to leave the vehicles and get lost or injured
- what if the vehicle carrying the satphone rolls, catches fire etc.

It really is very cheap insurance for a very reliable "last resort" call.

FollowupID: 417924

Follow Up By: PK Eildon (VIC) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 15:58

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 15:58

Agree with all that. Personal preference really, and subject to review before we go. Don't expect to be so remote as not to have contact with others. Going by the number of people I have spoken to heading that direction Jly/Aug the hardest thing maybe finding a campsite.
FollowupID: 417931

Reply By: Willem - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 18:11

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 18:11
Yes agree entirely with your view

I have never thought of Risk Assessment as such, but I guess I practice it all the same. After 40 years of doing these adventures one learns a

I travel alone with wife and dog as companions most of the time. On longer outback adventures I usally invite an old mate and his missus along. This year I am leading two special trips into trackless country where I have made an exception and have included more companions. But the max is five vehicles.

Basically I have ALL the gear except the EPIRB which is on the wish list. Planning takes up to 12 months and making sure that the vehicle is as perfect as may be possible for whatever journey I have planned. I make sure that enough food and water plus an extra weeks' supply is taken just in case. If going into really remote country I will consider taking a firearm so as to provide food if need be. But as I rukle I leave the rifle at home.

As to those who say WHAT IF?. Well I have to admit that it never crosses my mind. I am confident that I have prepared well enough so that I and my companions can have a really good time without worrying about possible occurences.

Although I have been in some really remote country I do not take unneccesary risks. I also make sure(to the best orf my ability) that I do not take my eye off the ball when travelling in the outback.


AnswerID: 163206

Follow Up By: PK Eildon (VIC) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 18:29

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 18:29
I'm sure with your experience you have already done all the risk assessing necessary, and learned from the school of hard knocks. I would defer to experience everytime in deference to tables, charts and theories. This is more designed for the inexperienced or unsure.

I don't see the WHAT IF? as a depressing or scarey exercise, but it helps if the doo doo hits the fan, in that you have already done the thinking. The situation may not be the same as what you imagined, but close enough for you to react. Nothing worse than trying to think while you sink in it.
FollowupID: 417963

Follow Up By: PK Eildon (VIC) - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 11:31

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 11:31
Willem, Hi

I gave you a reply the other day and was not happy with it, and have had a bit of a think. I was probably intimidated by your experience, and was afraid you may take it as someone trying to tell you how to suck eggs. Not my intention at all. I consider myself a novice who has managed to survive a while.

I think you do risk assessment, just call it 'keeping my eye on the ball'. I'm sure before you go to bed and when you wake up, you have a glance at the sky. If there are big black clouds on the horizon, you start thinking about how it may effect you, and may or may not change your plans. This is risk assessing (Indentify your risk, look at mitigating the risk, if you are comforatble and have the bases covered, accept the risk).

Unfortunately not everyone thinks this way, it can be an acquired skill. Those with experience tend to think it normal and obvious.

The problem arises, that when the inexperienced ask for advice in tackling the unfamiliar, they receive advice such as don't forget lots of water, or make sure you have a EPIRB, where perhaps they should be shown how to assess their own risks, start them down the 'way of thinking' path. I have often seen the results of people so involved in trying to fix a warm fridge(critical to them), they fail to notice the clouds coming.

The last time I was in the Simpson, we met a german tourist who stepped off the plane in Perth, hired a Toyota Troopie and headed for Sydney. He was running behind time as he thought it would only take him 5 days. His supplies consisted of a slab of beer, a slab of bottled water and snack food. He had a mobile phone to ring for road side assistance if needed. Mr LUCK must have been in the passenger seat, although we couldn't see him.

I'm sure if someone had shown him how to think out there, he may have obtained the knowledge for a different approach.

The risk assessment example I gave for us, does not and should not cease with the 'piece of paper'. Anyone with sufficient experience is likely to find the paper process totally superflous. It is the way of thinking contained in it that is important.

How many times have you heard the advice for the outback 'if you get into strife, stay with the vehicle'. You need to have the thought process to understand why, not simply the knowledge it is said.

Hope this explains where I am coming from a little better.

FollowupID: 418336

Follow Up By: Willem - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 16:18

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 16:18
That's OK

Thanks for the feedback. I like to try to give a balanced view on most things but have been known to say hurtful things from time to time :-) Thats life.

Someone had a motto here that Experience is something you need 5 minutes after you have gotten yourself into trouble. One is never too old to learn!

FollowupID: 418424

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 16:59

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 16:59
An excellent summary PK.

The instinctive (or learned, because we have recently lost the instinct) risk assessment you describe is precisely what nomadic people and remote tribes have been doing since the dawn of time - since we obtained all the support systems of modern Western society we have, largely, not had the need for this type of remote area knowledge - these days the risk assessment for most of us is about which parts of town to stay away from after dark! I often think the mollycoddling of modern society is quite negative for many - but let's not go down that road :)

With regard to your German tourist: I'm not sure it is possible to do much with people such as he - within the space of 24 hours they have stepped out an ultra modern system into remote Australian bush and the knowledge to operate in that environment takes time to learn - there is only so much one can glean from books, assuming he bothered to read any - and it doesn't sound like he did.

So little (of any _real_ consequence) goes wrong for most of us in modern society that I guess we simply have little, or no, need to do any serious risk assessment?

Mike Harding
FollowupID: 418438

Follow Up By: PK Eildon (VIC) - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 17:18

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 17:18
Thanks Willem. You may have got it wrong. I took no offence from you, just aware you know what you are talking about in the back country and I did not wish to offend you. Like the motto. There is no problem with getting yourself into trouble, you just want to be able to talk about it afterward. LOL
FollowupID: 418445

Follow Up By: PK Eildon (VIC) - Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 17:21

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006 at 17:21
Thanks Mike

Must agree, a lot of modern society expect to be told where the dangers of life are, and when it all goes wrong it is someone elses fault.

All the best

FollowupID: 418446

Reply By: DP - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 20:42

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 20:42
PK - it looks like a great planning tool to me. In quality assurance circles we conduct similar analysis called FMEA or Failure Mode Effects Analysis when looking at new products / processes. Businesses also conduct risk analysis on the same principle - and plan for preventive / corrective actions accordingly.

when calculating scores (RISK) we multiply the factors rather than add - the reason is that while one particular event may be quite likley of happening frequently, the impact of one event may be low - inconvenience... Once you start factoring in the amount of many inconveniences the true impact of the occurence is revealed. This way you realise that if a particular incident is going to occur frequently then you need to place a much higher importance to it.

Alternatively if an incident has a high score due to the potential impact (ie your example is life threatening = 5) then the true impact of incidence x likelihood of occurence gives this a much stronger weighting also.

I hope you don't take my comments as being critical of your system - I'm a big fan of your approach. It definitely has it's merits and is a great starting point. Just trying to provide a little assistance.

Good luck to the lads and have a great trip.


AnswerID: 163283

Follow Up By: PK Eildon (VIC) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 21:20

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 21:20

Certainly don't take offence. That's why I posted. You probably have a better handle on this process than me and I will look at what you say to see if it improves things for me. It is not meant to replace experience or tried and trusted methods, but if you are venturing into new or unfamiliar territory I think it helps you focus on what is important. No guarantees though. I am aware that those charged with 'responsibility' such as emergency services and business management do it in some form or other all the time, even down to individual incidents.
FollowupID: 418018

Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 21:01

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 21:01

Have recently done a couple of Risk Assessments for work, and they really make you think, if the outcome isn't as you'd like.

First rule would be: Don't invite Murphy!

People often mention on EO, how many spare parts they take. Often it is better to renew the parts before leaving, rather than on the road, or in amongst the spinifex.

We had a bloke coming here to give the staff a safety talk. Rolled a 100 series about 40 kms from home, and was able to ring on his satphone, because he had a globalstar or iridium type, not a vehicle one, with external aerial. Won't make mention of fact that it took him 10 minutes to find his glasses, so he read the numbers.

I wonder if you have thought about the different way each member of your party would handle any stress/misfortune?

Trip is so well planned, am sure you will enjoy it anyway.

Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 163289

Follow Up By: PK Eildon (VIC) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 21:31

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 21:31

I think the party must be included in the assessment process. Often poor reaction to a situation may be caused by lack of information or being kept in the dark. Each parties assessments are going to be different and have to suit them. Poor reaction to a situation may be identified as 1 of the risks and need mitigation.

Thanks for the input
FollowupID: 418022

Reply By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 21:07

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 21:07
I bloody hate Risk assesment courses If I have to do another one i will scream and as for JSAs arghhhhhhhh
AnswerID: 163293

Follow Up By: PK Eildon (VIC) - Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 21:32

Monday, Mar 27, 2006 at 21:32
Soooorrrrry. What can I say. Mitigation is an Engel loaded with medicine.
FollowupID: 418023

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