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Environmental management and organisations
Environmental management and organisations

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14 Risk management

Risk is one of those terms that you hear very often. Sometimes it is relished as part of the ‘fun’ of the event, experience or activity, and sometimes it is very much intended to be avoided. In many organisations, especially profit-orientated organisations, risk and risk taking are part of their rationale in the competitive market and a means to generate revenue. Of course, things do sometimes go wrong and then the results of the risk taking can be catastrophic as you have seen in the earlier listings of environmental disasters.

But what is risk? Before exploring some definitions, the next activity explores some of the risks you might experience everyday.

Activity 15 Risks and their management

Note down the risks you might have taken in the last day or so. These can be small or major risks. Did you think about or do anything to ameliorate the risks?


Just getting up in the morning involves all sorts of risk – I might slip, stumble, fall, burn, drown and electrocute myself in all sorts of ways before I even get out of my house. A car journey adds to the risk quotient significantly – all those cars travelling at speed. And air pollution? At work I take risks relating to the work environment of cables, chairs, doors, stairs and so on. The return car journey is more risky still as it is dark (at the time of writing at least). Back to my ‘house of risk’, and then out on my bicycle to play badminton at a local sports centre – the risk of personal injury increasing significantly from both activities. And finally back home to the safety of bed.

The risks are ameliorated by keeping domestic and workplace floors clear of obstacles – as anyone who has stood on a piece of Lego in bare feet will appreciate! When driving, I try to drive defensively and to avoid manoeuvres that will increase risk. I often drive with headlights on in the belief that I will be seen more easily. This belief fails when out on my bicycle. Despite reflective jacket, reflectors, several lights, helmet and defensive riding, I am always amazed by the number of close encounters with car drivers who seem not to notice me and/or treat me as some kind of irritation to be swatted away.

Your account of risks may have some overlaps with my answer. Clearly, risks exist in just about everything we do or places we go – living is a risk-judging and risk-taking activity. But whenever we take a risk we are actually making (or have made) a judgement about a hazard and the probability of the hazard being realised.