Assessing risk in engineering, work and life
Assessing risk in engineering, work and life

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Assessing risk in engineering, work and life

3 Risk measurement and risk management

Probability is a way of expressing, in mathematical terms, the likelihood that a particular event will happen. Risk assessments are generally concerned with the probability of something bad happening (the risk that a component will fail, for example), but probability can equally well apply to positive events or outcomes.

Before looking at the rest of this material, you need to take note of two important warnings. First, the fact that a component in a particular machine has lasted for 15 000 hours of use doesn’t mean that the equivalent component in a similar machine won’t fail after only 5000 hours of use. Or, in the words of the financial services industry:

Past performance is no indication of future performance.

Second, it is equally true that the fact that a component fails long before the end of its expected life doesn’t mean that a replacement component won’t also fail prematurely. Or, in the words of Ecclesiastes in the Christian and Jewish scriptures:

What has happened before will happen again.

In other words, it is important to be aware of the worst-case scenario: a component failure indicates the possibility of other failures in the future, yet a lack of failure does not mean similar components will not fail.

T193_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371