Risk assessment


A risk assessment can be performed to ensure that a National Water Safety Plan is feasible and practical to implement. This assessment is composed of four steps: hazard identification, risk analysis, risk evaluation and mitigation.

Hazard identification:

  • Brainstorm a list of potential hazards: what factors or events could compromise the successful implementation of a water safety plan?
  • Some examples include: lack of commitment or interest from government stakeholders, a lack of funding and limited resources, other competing health priorities, the election of a new government or a change in government structure

Risk analysis:

  • How and why would each identified hazard occur?
  • How would it affect implementation of the plan?
  • What is the chance of each identified hazard occurring? (hazard estimate)
  • Review past risk assessments performed for the implementation of similar plans in different settings, or by different organisations
  • Always consult relevant stakeholders for their suggestions of perceived risks, especially those who have or are currently working towards drowning reduction
  • Making a Decision Tree may help you to analyse your hazards in detail

Risk evaluation:

  • Label each hazard with a risk level i.e. negligible, low, moderate, high and catastrophic
  • Hazards associated with a high or catastrophic level of risk can readily prevent the successful implementation of a water safety plan. These hazards are required to be closely monitored over the duration of plan implementation.


  • Exposure to most hazards can be reduced by implementing processes that help mitigate risk
  • Discuss what mitigation techniques have been used in the past with stakeholders working towards drowning reduction in similar contexts
  • Mitigation often uses a cycle of monitoring, evaluation, decision making, monitoring and re-evaluation
  • This will help identify new risks and maintain watch of existing hazards


  • A cost-effective way to test whether a National Water Safety Plan can be feasibility implemented.
  • A clear method of communicating risks to all stakeholders.
  • Method to potentially prevent exposure to hazards/prevent hazards from occurring.
  • May refine areas of the water safety plan or highlight areas which require further consideration.


  • It is unlikely all risks will be identified through this process, nor that all hazards will be fully mitigated. Be prepared to encounter and deal with unexpected events and hazards.
  • Some hazards are difficult to quantify, or put into numbers, and are therefore hard to predict and mitigate.
  • The process can be a time consuming for long or complex projects, or if there is minimal available data on risks.
  • It is still possible to over or under-estimate the impact that a hazard might have.


A risk assessment should be completed prior to the finalisation and implementation of a National Water Safety Plan. Stakeholder input is crucial to ensure all potential hazards are identified and mitigation strategies are planned, particularly for hazards of high and catastrophic risk.