Risk Assessment

Once you have an inventory of driving-related hazards, the next step is a risk assessment in which you estimate how much risk each hazard presents.

The simple risk matrix in Table One is a common 3 x 3 risk assessment matrix that uses qualitative descriptions and comparative ranges to assign rankings or scores of high, medium or low for both probability and severity (as denoted by the colour-coding).

Table Two provides the criteria or descriptions that help you assign a probability and severity rating for a given hazard. Those criteria and descriptions in Table Two are the inputs for Table One.

Table One:  Simple Risk Matrix
Severity HIGH


Table Two: Rating Criteria Descriptions
Rating Probability Severity
  • Frequent or repeated event; occurs at least once a year in the organization
  • Occurs several times during a project
  • Occurs often in similar circumstances (e.g. another company doing similar work)
  • Greater than 50% chance of occurring
  • Serious or disabling personal injury, permanent disability or fatality
  • Costs to repair / replace property damage greater than $100,000
  • Loss of business function for extended period, substantial consequences for business
  • Event is known to occur, but not frequently
  • Occurs less than once a year in organization
  • Has occurred in similar circumstances (e.g. another company doing similar work)
  • 10% to 50% chance of occurring
  • Injury requiring medical aid with or without lost time from work
  • Costs to repair / replace property damage $25,000 - $100,000
  • Loss of business function for short period, modest consequences for business
  • Unlikely event; has not occurred in your company, but could
  • Has never been observed, but possible
  • Less than 10% chance of occurring
  • No injury or minor injury requiring first aid
  • Costs to repair / replace property damage less than $25,000
  • Minor business interruption

Using the Simple Risk Matrix

Adapt Risk Assessment Criteria to Your Organization

Table Two (above) provides several descriptors with reasonable thresholds designed to yield appropriate probability and severity ratings for driving-related hazards in many workplace circumstances. However, you should review each descriptor, consider your company’s processes, values and risk tolerances, and adjust the criteria to fit your workplace circumstances.

For example, a large, well-established employer might feel that property damage costs of $25,000 have should be scored as a “low” severity. For a small owner / operator company, $25,000 in property damage costs can have a significant impact on their viability and would receive a medium or high severity score.

You may also want to add environmental impacts (e.g., fuel spill, toxic release) or other consequences that could be associated with a crash, and are important for your organization.

Assign Scores for Probability and Severity

The next step is to assign a probability score and a severity score to each of the hazards you want to assess. When scoring each hazard, keep the following questions in mind.

Probability – Collectively, how often are our employees exposed to this hazard? In our organization, or in other organizations like ours, how often does this occur? How likely is this to happen?

Severity – If this hazard causes a crash or other incident, what are the most likely outcomes? How much will it cost? How severe are the injuries and other losses likely to be? How will that impact our business?

Applying the Simple Risk Matrix

  • Example One - A & R Taxi Ltd

    Below is a snapshot of how A & R Taxi Ltd used a simple risk matrix to prioritize their action plans.

    Example One: A & R Taxi Ltd
    Hazard Probability Severity Priority
    Taxi won’t start due to mechanical (battery) failure High – happens at least once each year across fleet Low – minor business delay; cost of repair = $100 Medium
    Taxi collides with another vehicle at intersection High – happens at least once per year across fleet Medium – lost time due to injuries; cost to repair damaged property = $45,000 High
    Taxi backs into pedestrian while parking Medium – happened once before to this company; a few occurrences at other taxi companies High – pedestrian receives serious injuries; liability costs greater than $100,000 High
  • Example Two - XYZ Courier Services

    XYZ Courier Services is working hard to win contracts. Recently, some drivers have adopted the practice of eating lunch “on the road” thinking it will improve productivity. Others are concerned this added task reduces their ability to pay attention to traffic, and drive. Yesterday, a driver damaged his van when he backed into a loading dock while trying to eat a sandwich. Today, XYZ has hired a contractor to fix their client’s loading dock, and is trying to repair its damaged business reputation and keep that client. XYZ management assigned a high severity and high probability to such outcomes. They have made eliminating “driving lunches” a HIGH priority.

    Hazard Probability Severity Priority
    Driver distracted from driving duties when trying to eat lunch while driving High – has happened at least once in last year, and predicted to occur more frequently High – loss of vehicle use, damage to customer’s loading dock cost $17,000; harm to reputation High
  • Example Three - ABC Health Services

    In the last two years, ABC Health Services has experienced two near crashes when an employee driving an ABC vehicle is the victim of aggressive driving behaviours by another driver. Based on what “just about” happened, the ABC health and safety committee thinks such a crash would probably result in serious injuries to their employee and their passenger (patients they are transporting). They estimate it would cost about $30,000 to repair damaged vehicles. The ABC health and safety committee assigns a medium severity and high probability to such outcomes, and ranks the priority of managing risks associated with passengers distracting their drivers as HIGH.

    Hazard Probability Severity Priority
    Aggressive driving behaviours by another driver High – near misses have happened twice in last two years Medium - loss of vehicle use, damage to vehicles = $30,000 High

For a more extensive example of how to apply the Simple Risk Matrix, download Applying the Simple Risk Matrix - Top Notch Consultants (PDF)To access the working tool, access: Simple Risk Matrix Assessment Tool (Excel)

Taking Action

The key to making hazard identification and risk assessments work for you is to take action. Once you decide on priorities, the next step is to develop measures to control those hazards and minimize associated risks. To learn more about developing those controls and building safe work procedures look to the next section in this Tool Kit.

Continue Reading:

The Basics

Hazard Identification

Risk Assessment

Risk Assessment Methods



Tool Kits