Risk Assessment Matrix; What It Is & How To Use It Effectively

What is Risk Assessment Matrix?

Risk assessment matrix is an analytical tool used to define the level of risk by plotting the likelihood of the risk against the severity of the consequence.


RISK LEVEL (Severity) = Likelihood x Consequence

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The likelihood can be:

  • Definite: Almost certain to show up on the course of the project. Has over 80% chance
  • Likely: Has 60 – 80% chance of showing up.
  • Occasional: Has 50/50 chance of occurrence.
  • Seldom: Has less that 50% chance of occurrence
  • Unlikely: Rare risk with less than 10% chance of occurrence.


The consequence of the risk can be:

  • Insignificant
  • Marginal
  • Moderate
  • Critical or
  • Catastrophic


The risk assessment matrix is made in a form of a table where risks are grouped based on its likelihood and severity of consequence; colours are used to segment the table. The table is generally segmented into four (4) colours – Green, yellow, orange and Red.


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The different colours shows the different risk rating (severity):

Green – Low risk (L): The risks here are seen to be insignificant.

Yellow – Medium (M): Risk here needs reasonable steps to be taken against it. It is not mostly urgent and resource intensive.

Orange – High risk (H): Risks in this category calls for immediate action. If the possibility of resolving it immediately is not there, strict timeline has to be set to get it resolved.

Red – Extreme (E): Risks here are so critical and need immediate action.


Why Should We Use The Risk Assessment Matrix?

It assist in decision-making when determining how best to manage risk. It will help the management to take an informed decision since the risk assessment matrix will help increase the visibility of the risk.

Advantages of the risk assessment matrix

  • It helps categorize risk adequately
  • Help in prioritizing the process of risk management
  • Avoid allotting resources to managing risk indiscriminately
  • Guide in tackling risk effectively based on the severity


Read Also: 6 Methods of risk assessment you should know


NOTE: Risk matrix comes after the filling up the risk assessment form. Filling of the risk assessment form involves determining the risks, gathering risks data, determining the probability and the impact level of the risk, understanding the consequence, etc.

Based on the information from the risk assessment form, it will be easier to place each risk in the risk assessment matrix appropriately.


Typical Example of How the Risk Assessment Matrix Works:


Risk Assessment Matrix


Project – Roofing of a 24 Storey Building

Risk identified – Fall from height

Likelihood – Above 85%

Impact level (Consequence) – Fatality

Based on the information above, the risk “FALL FROM HEIGHT” will occupy the first row-fifth column (Almost certain & catastrophic) in the risk assessment matrix highlighted in this article.


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This also shows how you can utilize the information in the risk assessment form to categorize risk in the risk assessment matrix.

Remember – The Five (5) Principles of Risk Assessment as it Applies to the Risk Assessment Matrix

Step 1: Identify the hazards

  • Walk around your venue and look at what could reasonably be expected to cause
  • Ask your other people what they think. They may have noticed things that are not
    immediately obvious to you.
  • Visit the HSE website. HSE publishes practical guidance on where hazards occur
    and how to control them. There is much information on the hazards that might affect
    your event.
  • If you are a member of a trade association, contact them. Many produce very
    helpful guidance.
  • Check manufacturers’ instructions or data sheets for chemicals and equipment as
    they can be very helpful in spelling out the hazards and putting them in their true
  • Remember to think about long-term hazards to health (eg high levels of noise or
    exposure to harmful substances) as well as safety hazards.


Read Also: Demolition meaning – Demolition risk assessment and Safety precautions


Step 2: Decide who might be harmed and how

For each hazard you need to be clear about who might be harmed; it will help you identify
the best way of managing the risk. That doesn’t mean listing everyone by name, but rather
identifying groups of people (eg ‘people working in the storeroom’ or ‘passers-by’).


  • Some workers have particular requirements, e.g new and young workers , migrant workers, new or expectant mothers and people with disabilities may be at
    particular risk. Extra thought will be needed for some hazards;
  • cleaners, visitors, contractors, maintenance workers etc, who may not be in the venue all the time;
  • members of the public, if they could be hurt by your activities;
  • ask others if they can think of anyone you may have missed.

In each case, identify how they might be harmed, i.e. what type of injury or ill health might
occur. For example, ‘shelf stackers may suffer back injury from repeated lifting of boxes’.

Step 3: Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions

Having spotted the hazards, you then have to decide what to do about them. The law
requires you to do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm. You can
work this out for yourself, but the easiest way is to compare what you are doing with good

First, look at what you’re already doing, think about what controls you have in place and how it is organised. Then compare this with the good practice and see if there’s more you should be doing to bring yourself up to standard. In asking yourself this, consider:

  • Can I get rid of the hazard altogether?
  • If not, how can I control the risks so that harm is unlikely?

When controlling risks, apply the principles below, if possible in the following order:

  • try a less risky option (eg switch to using a less hazardous chemical);
  • prevent access to the hazard (eg by guarding);
  • organise work to reduce exposure to the hazard (eg put barriers between pedestrians
    and traffic);
  • issue personal protective equipment (eg clothing, footwear, goggles etc);
  • and provide welfare facilities (eg first aid and washing facilities for removal of

Improving health and safety need not cost a lot. For instance, placing a mirror on a
dangerous blind corner to help prevent vehicle accidents is a low-cost precaution
considering the risks. Failure to take simple precautions can cost you a lot more if an
accident does happen.

Step 4: Record your findings and implement them

Putting the results of your risk assessment into practice will make a difference when looking after people and your fundraising event.


Read Also: What is fire risk assessment: How it is done


Writing down the results of your risk assessment, and sharing them, encourages you to do

When writing down your results, keep it simple, for example ‘Tripping over rubbish: bins
provided, staff instructed, weekly housekeeping checks’.

We do not expect a risk assessment to be perfect, but it must be suitable and sufficient. As
illustrated by our example risk assessments, you need to be able to show that:

  • a proper check was made;
  • you asked who might be affected;
  • you dealt with all the obvious significant hazards, taking into account the number of
    people who could be involved;
  • the precautions are reasonable, and the remaining risk is low; and
    you involved your staff or their representatives in the process.

Step 5: Review your risk assessment and update if

Things are likely to change between first conducting your risk assessment and your
fundraising event. It makes sense therefore, to review what you are doing on an ongoing

Look at your risk assessment and think about whether there have been any changes? Are
there improvements you still need to make? Have other people spotted a problem? Have
you learnt anything from accidents or near misses? Make sure your risk assessment stays
up to date.