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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
Assess the situation