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Risk Assessment

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This essay will critically analyze what the concepts of risk and the perceptions of risk are. These concepts will then be applied to my personal experiences of risk during a typical kayaking exercise. This essay will also study the ideas of perceived risk and actual risk and their applications to the public services sector, more specifically the police. While studying the areas of perceived risk and actual risk in the police the essay will focus mainly on the importance of risk assessment and risk management in the work place.

Risk is a concept that we face every day during day to day life. Risk is an eventuality that we subconsciously analyze every day before embarking on our day to day business. Barton (2011) talks of when humans started on this planet survived by depending upon skill and wit to avoid risk during activities such as hunting, foraging and living together in close kit ‘packs’. This was very high risk sometimes but as the species evolved humans have become more intelligent and more vigilant so risk became less. Some people argue that though risk has become a less frequent idea the risks themselves become more serious. For example car accidents are less frequent but more serious that injuries you may gain through walking or running. Risk its self is subjective to the individual. One person may something is very risky while the other would perceive the risk as relatively minor. Lyng (1990) talks about how many people take part in risk taking activities for enjoyment reasons. For example there is a relatively large section of society whoenjoy adventruos activities. These are often full of risk for example mountainerring can result in many injuries just as broken limbs, sprains and cuts.

Hansson (2004) explains the concept of risk as being an unwanted event of which may or may not occur due to the participation in a certain activity. He also describes risk as an unwnated event and the probability of that event happening. These concepts can be easily appiled to my personal experiences of risk during kayaking. State of Victoria (2011) explains that there are many risks to kayaking. these could include incidents such as: sprains, pulled musclues, bumps, cuts and scrapes such as being hit by kayaks, debris or paddels in the water, heat stress, dehydration, sunburn, hypothermia and drowning. These are all risks that we had to evaluate before deciding to go kayaking. This shows that we took into account factors like perceived risk, for example drowning could be perceived as a serious risk to someone who can not swim, and actual risk, for example there was a very real actual risk of bumps and scrapes occuring during the activities. During the activities i wrote a reflective diary of my time kayaking.

This jornanl includes things like how i felt, what i thought and my aims during the activites. The idea of risk affected my decition making during the exercise because i had become more aware of the risks associated with kayaking. This meant that i was more cautious and wary during the activities. Another example of how risk and risk taking affected my experience kayaking was it increased my enjoyment. This was due to an increase in adrenaline which releases endorphines. Hawks (1992) claims that endorphines can stimluate pleasure and enjoyment due to the endorphines stimulating the pleasure centres of the brain. This could also work in reverse as adrenaline also hightens the blood pressure and heart rate causing the person to feel paniced and helpless as aposed to excited and thrilled by the experience. Lyng (1990) States that risk taking can be volutery and has become a sizable attraction to may people all across america. A phenomina which is also largely evident in the united kingdom today. During adveture activities health and safety are vitall important for the well being and enjoyment of the team and the indiviual.

To insure the health and safety of a group going kayaking or any other activity a risk assessment needs to be completed by a person in charge of the group or the activity before the activity. Another way to insure the safety of a group doing an activity is banning dangerous activities, for example while kayaking you could ban bumping into other peoples kayaks to avoid injuries. Dickson & Gray (2012) describe the goals of a risk assessment to address and manage risks or uncertanties of a task or activity. They explain that though the aim may be to manage these risks the risks can not be completely eliminated all together. A risk assessment should contain information about team members, the destination, date of the activity, what the activity entails, the risks of the activity, how severe the risks are and how to manage the risks. It is nessicary to cosider all of these factors before taking a group kayaking. This is because if you over look any of these factors you may not be able to fully assess all the risks that could arise and how sever they could be to the indviual and the group.

Risk assessments became nessecary by law due to an ammendment in the health and safety at work act of 1974. The ammendment was in 1999 under the management of the health and safety at work regualtion. The National Archives (1999) states that every employer should have to make a suitable and sufficient assessmet of all the risks to the health and safety of employees which they might be exposed to during the process of there work. The act also states that the employer must alos assess any risk to the health and safety of the general public or persons that may come into cotact which employees or activities that take place during there course work. The act then continues to explain how the employer is responsible for identifying the risks and any measures that must be take to manage or prevent these risks and any harm coming to the people of the public or there employees, and to do so to the best of there ablility. This meant that before our group could go kayaking the group leader or person planning the activity would have to assess all the factors of the activity including traveling, packing and unpacking the equipment and the people that the group would come incotact with. They would then have to come up with controll measure to reduce and controll these risk factors.

Dickson & Gray (2012) Believed there are two main varieties of risk. These are actual risk and perceived risk. Perceived risk is stated to be the personal assessment of what classifies as risk and what does not. This is not subjective to whether the risk is present at the time or not. Actual risk is classified as being the amount of risk that is actually present at any point in time during the activity now or in the future. These risks can be applied to the public services and all other aspects of life. The police are a good example of how risk can be applied to a job and how it can the job can still be completed effectively while combating the risk factor. The police are very high risk for example the police handle weapons, drive at high speed and interact with possibly dangerous criminals on a day to day basis. The risks of these tasks are closely assessed and analyzed before they are carried out. This reduces the risk factor significantly therefore meaning the police officers can do their jobs more efficiently as they are more likely to be in work rather than off work injured. There are down side to completing risk assessment for all these activities. Some examples of these negative effects of risk assessments for example it becomes more expensive due to the need for more equipment. There is more paper work and less time spent fighting crime.

These are all negatives that are taken in to consideration when completing risk assessments and the general consensus tends to be that the positives of risk assessments, namely the preservation of the health of your work force, outweigh the costs and time taken to do this. Johnston & Hutton (2005) Give a good example of situations where risk assessments a necessary during the regular duties of a police officer. For example a custody officer would have to initiate a risk assessment on a detainee in detention. They would have to assess the likely hood of the detainee being a risk to themselves or the staff while detained. This would then be reported to their superior who would analyze the report and give instructions on how to handle the detained person.

The police will carry out a risk assessment for a lot of activities they participate in as part of their day to day duties. This is a good way to show the differences of perceived risk and actual risk. A police officer would perceive risk differently to a civilian, for example driving fast would normally be classed as a risk to a civilian while police officers would find it less of a risk as they a trained to be able to handle a car at high speed. While actual risk for a police officer would be a lot more sever to the normal day to day life of a civilian, for example being held at gun point would be an example of actual risk but one that would not be an uncommon risk for a police officer, while a civilian would be very unlikely to be in this situation. Conclusion

In conclusion there are many risks that everybody faces and analyzes, sometime subconsciously, during day to day activities. Risk is somewhat reduced in modern civilisation compared to start of the human race when everything was still trail and error. Some risks are more severe while other can be viewed as mild. Risk is very perspective and depending on your life style and what you do for a living risk can be seen as severe and or mild. Many people try and avoid risk but there is a growing section of the population who enjoy risk and risk taking for sport or entertainment. Risk can be managed in many ways such as a risk assessment or banning an activity. There is legislation in place to protect employees and the public from the risks created by work. Risk assessments are very useful at identifying risks and as long as they are filled out properly can be used to help people minimize risk. Every company and employer must carefully assess the risk of all work environments and activities and do everything within their power to minimize these risks.


Barton, B., 2011. Safety, Risk & Adventure in outdoor activities. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. Dickson, T. J. & Gray, T. L., 2012. Risk Management in the Outdoors A whole-of-organisation approach for education, sport and recreation. New York: Cambridge University Press. Hansson, S. O., Fall 2004. Philosophical Perspectives on Risk. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology (http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/SPT/v8n1/hansson.html), Volume 8(Number 1). Hawks, C. H., 1992. Endorphins: the basis of pleasure?. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry with practical Neurology, 55(4).
Johnston, D. & Hutton, G., 2005. Blackstone’s Police Manual Volume 2. Evidence& Procedure. 7 ed. New York: Oxford university press. Lyng, S., january 1990. Edgework: A Social Psychological Analysis of Voluntary Risk Taking. American Journal of Sociology (http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2780644?uid=3738032&uid=2134&uid=366375071&uid=2&uid=70&uid=3&uid=366375061&uid=60&sid=21101447606891), Volume 95(Number 4), pp. pp. 851-886. State of Victoria, 2011. better health: Canoeing and kayaking – preventing injury. [Online] Available at: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Canoeing_and_kayaking_preventing_injury [Accessed 3 December 2012].

The National Archives, 1999. health and safety act. www.Legislation.gov.uk. [Online] Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1999/3242/regulation/3/made [Accessed 3 December 2012].

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