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EHS&S Risk Guide: Our experts go back to basics to define risk

Those of us in the EHS&S (Environmental, Health, Safety & Sustainability) field know that risk is a little word with a lot of weight. How we view risk is becoming increasingly complicated with every year — and that’s not likely to change. The fact is, just like the board game of the same name, real-life risk has simple rules but requires complex interactions.

To add to that inherent complexity, definitions of risk and the magnitude of risk may vary among different stakeholders and decision-makers. Risks are present across the entire business enterprise; risk management decisions addressing one portion of the business may have negative consequences in another portion of the business.

Managing risks to protect business continuity must be viewed taking a systems approach. It’s not just about checking compliance boxes anymore. Going beyond compliance is crucial.

So, I asked experts across the EHS&S spectrum for their thoughts on risk management’s bigger picture and compiled their responses into a guide.

Read on for a sample of their insights.

“Risk can be a scary term to people. While there is no concrete way to know exactly what will happen, organizations can absolutely develop a method to evaluate and understand their risks by understanding their threats and opportunities across their enterprise. It’s different for each company.”

Danyle Hepler, CSP, CESCO
Senior Technical Specialist

Danyle Hepler has a lot to say about EHS&S risk management. Check out her Safety Action Report.

“Unexpected actions an entity is willing to tolerate that affect finances and relationships.” 

Kathryn Hubbard
Technical Specialist and Environmental Management Specialist

“At its most basic level, risk is the possibility of a loss, and as individuals, each of us perceives risk differently and has a different tolerance for it.”

Sunila Gupta
Program Manager

“I see risk in the resilience context. What will cause disruptions to daily operations and put people at risk?”

Karin Holland
Associate/Sustainability, Lean Practitioner

“I view risk as the potential financial damage resulting from systems failures such as inadequate procedures, employee errors, or any other unplanned event that disrupt business processes.”

Mike Lispi
Senior Associate, Permitting, Compliance & Operational Risk

You will find many more perspectives in the full guide “but you can explore the entire conversation now. 

Meanwhile, let me know what you think about risk. How is risk defined in your organization?

How risk averse are you? It’s obvious that my colleagues and I have a deep interest in risk ” leave a comment below or send me an email and join our conversation.

Published: 3/18/2019


Anita Broughton

Market Segment Leader, Industrial and Manufacturing