ORM: Don't leave it to a roll of the dice

Senior Airman John W. Smith, right, 728th Air Mobility Squadron aerial porter, loads palletes onto a C-17 Globemaster III with the aid of Tech. Sgt. Tom House, 728th AMS aircraft loadmaster. Risk management can range from wearing protective gloves and reflective belts to assessing the risk of moving the exact amount of cargo on any mission. Risk management should be executed during every activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Gomez.)

Senior Airman John W. Smith, right, 728th Air Mobility Squadron aerial porter, loads palletes onto a C-17 Globemaster III with the aid of Tech. Sgt. Tom House, 728th AMS aircraft loadmaster. Risk management can range from wearing protective gloves and reflective belts to assessing the risk of moving the exact amount of cargo on any mission. Risk management should be executed during every activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Gomez.)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Operational risk management. If you have been in the Air Force for any amount of time then the words should be familiar. New and haven't heard? Here are the steps broken down.

Step 1. Identify the hazard
The purpose of this step is to identify as many hazards as possible. A hazard can be any real or potential condition that can cause the mission to stop or slow down, injury, illness, death to people or damage to or loss of equipment or property. 

Notice surroundings, if it looks wrong or dangerous, stop and check it out first.

Step 2. Assess the risk
Risk is the probability and severity of loss from exposure to the hazard. This process defines the probability and severity of an undesirable event that could result from the hazard. 

There are different levels of risk severity. 

Catastrophic - Complete mission failure, death, or loss of system.
Critical - Major mission failure, severe injury, occupational illness or major system damage.
Moderate - Minor mission degradation, injury, minor occupational illness, or minor system damage.
Negligible - Less than minor mission degradation, injury, occupational illness, or minor system damage. 

Without saying, if the risk is too high find an alternative method or route.

Step 3. Analyze risk control measures
Look for ways to mitigate risk, whether it be proper equipment, personal protective equipment or doing a different action. Investigate specific strategies and tools that reduce, mitigate, or eliminate the risk. Effective control measures reduce or eliminate one of the three components (probability, severity, or exposure) of risk.

Step 4. Make control decisions
Now it's time to make some decisions. The hazard has been identified, the risk assessed and the risk control measures assessed, now decisions must be made.

-- Accept the plan as is: Benefits outweigh risks (costs), and total risk is low enough to justify the proposed action if something goes wrong. In peacetime, no one should accept an appreciable risk of any casualties. The decision maker must allocate resources to control risk. Available resources are time, money, personnel, and/or equipment. 
-- Reject the plan out-of-hand. Risk is too high to justify the operation in any form. The plan was probably faulty in some manner, or the objective was not that important. 
-- Modify the plan to develop measures to control risk. The plan is valid, but the current concept does not adequately minimize risk. Further work to control the risk is necessary before proceeding. 
-- Elevate the decision to higher authority. The risk is too great for the decision-maker to accept, but all measures of controlling risk have been considered. If the operation is to continue, a higher authority must make the decision if the mission is worth it, and accept the risk.

Step 5. Implement risk controls
Once a decision has been made, measures have to be put in place to execute the plan. Part of implementing control measures is informing the people in the system of theresults of the risk management process and subsequent decisions.

Step. 6 Supervise and review
Risk management is continually ongoing throughout the mission, or activity. Everyone on the different levels must fulfill their respective roles in assuring controls are sustained over time. Once controls are in place, they should be periodically reevaluated to see if the plan has changed at all. 

Make sure the controls are effective and remain in place. 

Identify any changes which require further risk management evaluation. 

Take action when risk controls are ineffective and reinitiate the risk management steps in response to new hazards. 

Anytime the personnel, equipment, or mission taskings change or new operations are anticipated in an environment not covered in the initial risk management analysis, the risks and control measures should be reevaluated. 

The steps for risk management should be applied in everyday situations, whether on or off duty. Just know the steps.