Risk Management: What is it?

Everyday life carries with it a certain amount of risk – whether it is crossing the street, driving a car, going skiing, taking a trip via airline – and we accept those risks as a matter of course. We have learned to assess the risks of getting injured in the above scenarios, and have generally concluded that while there is a chance (or probability) of something awful happening (consequences), the chances are very small. Hence we take the risk – otherwise we would end up doing nothing!

So we are all ‘intuitive risk managers’. In other words, we (successfully) manage risks intuitively, and subconsciously, on a daily basis. The challenge is to bring those intuitive skills to a more conscious level so that they can be applied to your Campus Recreation work setting.

So let’s start by defining Risk Management – what exactly is it?

Basically, it is a process of assessing risk exposure, then developing and implementing action plans to minimize its impact.

The problem is that we all tend to jump right in there – and start with the planning phase without first adequately assessing the risks. The reality is that you may not be able to safely or effectively manage all the risks. So before you start (or continue) to run a program or activity, you need to assess just how risky the program/activity really is.

You also need to understand that all risk cannot be totally eliminated. It is just too costly to attain perfection, and all risk factors may not be in your control.

It also needs to be emphasized that risk management planning is a process. Whether you work as a fitness instructor, facility manager, lifeguard, coach or volunteer board member of a sports or recreation association; every situation will be different, and the risks and types of injury may be unique to that situation. However the process for managing those risks is the same. And having a disciplined, step-wise process ensures that key areas don’t get missed, and that there is a logical, progressive way to your planning approach.

In this series of blogs, we’ll be exploring the Risk Management Planning Process (Assessment; Planning; Implementation & Control; Evaluation) by focusing on two key steps: Assessment and Planning.

Next Blog: ‘High-Risk’ approach to risk assessment and planning.

Ian McGregor is the president of SportRisk.

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