Inspectioneering Journal

Risk: An Ever Present Challenge

By Mike Asquini, Project Manager at T.A. Cook. This article appears in the May/June 2017 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.


Risk is an inherent aspect of asset management. Whether the task is routine maintenance, capital projects, inspections, reliability, or outages, risk will always be present. Unfortunately, controlling it is easier said than done. Risk must be managed beginning with the initiation of an event or project and lasting until completion. Some organizations don’t recognize risk management as a necessity, while others have extensive protocols which make the process very cumbersome - even with the help of current technologies. Advanced computer systems can’t do it alone. This article will explain how one can implement a reliable risk management program.

Total risk elimination is not always possible, which is why company leaders must determine their company’s level of tolerance. As the event progresses, the risk management plan must be dynamic so that specific details can be added, subtracted, and mitigated to an acceptable level. The strategy doesn’t have to be complicated as long as it’s thorough. In the world of asset management, risk refers to anything that might inhibit an activity’s success. For this purpose, success is defined in terms of safety, environmental impact, cost, duration, and meeting the agreed-upon performance and reliability objectives. All site activities require an expenditure of resources for planning and execution, which can take hours, months or even years to complete. The success of an activity can greatly influence an organization’s competitiveness in the marketplace and in turn, secure or threaten the company’s future. Although it will always be a factor, by following a well-organized process and utilizing the power of in-house personnel, risk can be successfully managed.

Training Staff

In order for the team to determine any potential danger, they must be fully aware of what might constitute a risk. The groups in charge of this task should be cross functional and include a mix of planning and scheduling personnel, technical experts, Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) staff, operations personnel, and maintenance staff. This blend of departments will help ensure that risk is considered from all angles by employees who have a wide variety of perspectives. This diversity will come in handy as the team is trained to handle risk. Initially, the management process takes the form of education and identification. The training programs should include samples of risks associated with previous events and a detailed explanation of the purpose of managing liabilities.

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