Trail Safe Lesson 4 - Mission Analysis
Operational risk management is the identification in control of risk according to a set of common factors that we all agree upon. Operational risk management applies to our individual and group activities, our missions out on the trail as well as our off duty activities. The word operational includes any volunteer who contributes to the overall mission of the National Park Service. All volunteer trail jobs, tasks, and projects have different levels of risk, but all have risks. Managing risk means we eliminate, reduce, or manage threats that can lead to accidents.
There are four key principles to operational risk management. The first is to accept no unnecessary risk. Unnecessary risk does not contribute any benefit to the situation at hand. Always accomplish your task or project by exposing yourself and other volunteers to risk levels that are as low as reasonably practical. ALRP.
The second principle of operational risk management is that we make decisions at the appropriate levels. We all have to agree on how much risk is acceptable so that we'll all know when our volunteers should seek a decision from a higher level of supervision. At the same time, volunteers need to be empowered to make risk decisions at or below what management says is acceptable. with decision making comes accountability. So everyone who is accountable for success or failure must be included in the decision process. The third principle
is that we accept risks only when the benefits outweigh the costs. Remember there is risk in every activity and we always mitigate risk to LRP as low as reasonably practical but in some circumstances we may be able to accept high risk endeavors when there's clear knowledge that the benefits will exceed the costs.
Understand though that these instances will be very very rare. When it comes to volunteer projects on the trail and hirees task will require the approval of management.
And lastly. Principle number for operational risk management is quite simply to integrate risk management into all levels of planning. Doing so will allow the final decision maker to apply operational risk management principles most effectively.
Now let's examine the seven steps of the operational risk management process and then quickly apply them to a trail scenario. The seven steps we need to cover are define the task. Identify the hazards assess the risks come up with options evaluate our risk versus gain. Execute our decision and then monitor and supervise the implementation of our decision.
So. To make this exercise the most useful trail volunteers Let's go through our seven step process with a good example of what many of us could relate to out on the trail. Our first step is always to define our task. So for purposes of this exercise let's say that our task is to construct the boardwalk in a remote stretch of the trip. Let's also say this boardwalk is in an area next to a river or a lake and the closest way to get supplies to the construction site is to cross the waters. Rather than hike those supplies out from a long long distance. I didn't get to say the crossing the water was the best way to do
it. It's just the closest we get. So now let's move ahead and our seven step process to step to.
Step two is to identify our answers. So at this point we're going to look at all aspects of our mission and rely on our past experiences and our professional judgments of what all of our hazards maybe. We need to get boardwalk supplies to a remote area and we have two ways that we can get there by land or by water. So what are the hazards that we can expect using either of those methods. Going in by land that's going to take a lot of trips could exhaust our volunteers. Going in by land means going down and up a steep ravine. That will be hard and it may cause tripping and falling injuries.
Taking the extra time that went by land reduces the time that we have to actually build the boardwalk. So it could result in us rushing the job and ending up with either a poorly built or an injured volunteer or maybe both. Going in over water may require fewer trips to get the supplies across but it will also mean kind to condense together to make a raft. So how safe is that. We need to think that. Hey it may be quicker. But it's over water. That's a risk in itself. And what if the wind picks up and closes down the lake many miles from our intended landing spot. What that is
once we're stuck in the swamp and the lake and can't even walk out.
What other hazards can you think of in this fictional boardwalks.
Next we need to assess the risks later in this lesson we'll be reviewing how to use what's called a speed or guard card that gives us a way to numerically assign a risk value to either general threats or specific threats general threats are calculated using the G.A.R. GAAR model which stands for green amber and red and specific threats are calculated using the SPC speed model which calculates severity times probability times exposure.
And that is where the P comes from. We'll go over those assessment tools in a moment. But for now let's there are seven step process of operational risk management. Step four is to identify what options we have in controlling risks. We can reduce the risk by increasing everyone's awareness of the threat. Hey everybody there's a groundnuts of bees over here next to the trail. Let's fly this area off and pass the word. We can spread out the risk by not over exposing ourselves to catastrophic events. Hey everybody we're going to take the supplies across the
lake by boat. No more than two people to a canoe in case somebody capsizes. We don't all need to be rescued at once. We can transfer the risk to another entity altogether. Hey let's hope you're in the professional water taxi operator to free these supplies across the lake for us. He's totally equipped to do a safe and professional job. And it just makes sense to spend the money on hiring out this job instead of us trying to do it all ourselves. We can avoid specific risks until conditions are more suitable. Hey everyone the forecasted winds today are going to be for 10 to 15 miles per hour with gusts up to 25 miles
per hour. It's going to be calm tomorrow let's not paddle across the lake today with all these heavy timbers and we can accept risk when the benefits clearly outweigh the costs but still bring the risk down to a LRP as low as reasonably practical.
Step Five requires us to evaluate risk versus gain. Doing so is often difficult and has plagued safety managers for years. Risk vs. gain can also be called protection versus production and it's always possible to have too much or too little of either one. If we have too much protection we simply can't get the job done or maybe can't afford all the possible safeguards that are available. If we err on the side of too much production then we have higher risks and are more likely to experience catastrophic accidents. Risk management is about finding a balance between product protection and getting the job done. Don't feel like you're alone in
this process. Consult your national park service contacts and have them be an integral part of evaluating risk versus gain on any real project you have.
Step 6 take action execute the decision you or your team has decided upon and put the crimp people and resources in place.
So we're still with our boardwalks scenario and we've decided the risks of ferrying materials in volunteers across the water are outweighed by the gains. So here we go. Let's find our best canoe paddlers and have them in charge of that let station Mary Johnson on the bridge further up the lake to warn us via walkie talkie radio if any motor boats are headed our way while we make these crossings and everyone wears a life jacket while on the water and so on and so on.
And the seventh and final step and monitor and supervise the project operational risk management doesn't just stop after the first think it was completed. It's a continuing process. Are your wrists and risk controls staying in balance. Are any changes you made proving to be effective in lowering risk whenever unwanted or unexpected changes in the situation occur. Repeat this seven step process.
Lesson 4 is another one of our longer lessons. So we're in a good spot.
If anybody does need to take a quick break. But please do come back and finish up this lesson on mission analysis.
We're going to next look at how we can quantifiably assess risk using DSP and guard risk assessment models that we just talked about a few minutes ago.
Now let's examine our first tool for quantifying a specific risk using the or Spee risk assessment model. The acronym SPIE comes from the three components of the model. Severity times probability times exposure as we just said we want to use the SPI model whenever we're looking at a single specific hazard. The SPIE model isn't meant to assess risks that are combined.
For instance if our situation is a power cord exposed across the room one has to be measured is the likelihood of people being injured if they trip on a totally different hazard would be the likelihood of equipment damage. If people trip on the cord we cannot measure the injuries in the equipment demans together we must complete two SPIE assessments. If we want to examine both outcomes.
So whenever it's possible throughout this trail save series. I'd like to use examples that we can all relate to. So to illustrate how we're going to use the speed model to assess risk. Instead of talking about extension cords inside an office building let's do a trailer. So. Let's say that I'm going to lead a group of volunteers out on the trail to do some sort of a maintenance activity. And we come to a place where we need to walk on top of a fallen lot. That's across the street because we want to get to the other side. I'm not sure at that point if that's an acceptable level of risk to take. So
using the speed model of risk assessment I can quantify that risk and be in a better position to know if it's acceptable.
Here's how that works. Civility of the risk is the first of three things in the speed model calculation severity is defined as the most likely consequence of any condition. In our case it's needing to cross a log over a stream. When we consider severity we can only think in terms of what is the most likely consequence not the worst case scenario. And whenever we go through this exercise with this model we always think in terms of 100 people.
So if 100 people crossed my log over my stream and I was concerned about injuries only. Then I asked myself if 100 people across this lot. What's the most likely consequence to happen. Well. That depends. You say. You're absolutely right. You need to know more details of the log in the stream to decide what's likely to happen or not. After all if it's a 100 foot drop off that locked to the stream and my likely outcome will be catastrophic death. I don't want that on my blog here. So let's let's say that the stream is 25 yards wide.
Let's also say that a lot going over it has a diameter of about 18 inches. And it's probably three or four feet down. To the stream if you do fall off. And the stream bed is very rocky and even not a soft place to land. Even though the water is only about six inches deep right now.
It could still. Be problematic. So now if 100 people cross my lawn and we know all that there is to know about the log in the stream. What is the most likely consequence.
I think that under that scenario somebody is going to require first day. To see a doctor for a sprain or a minor fracture. So let's see where the speed chart puts us on that.
So it looks like I'm just on the edge of a minor to moderately severe injury minor is rated as a 2 and moderate is rated as a three. So you'll say you were at a 2.5 so write that number down as the first part of our speed equation 2.5 for the as part of the severity.
Now we must consider the probability of someone being injured crossing a log. Again if 100 people crossed the log then what's the probability that one or more will fall off. Think now about people's exposure to the risk. The log is 25 feet long. So that is their exposure to the hazard.
So I'm going to say that if 100 people had to be exposed to 25 feet of log before they were safely across I'll say that that's likely that at least a few of them will fall. I don't think would be most people. But I do think it would happen to more than a couple. So I'm looking at a four numeric value to put into my speed calculation. So now in my calculation I've got 2.5 times four with one more variable to look at.
The last part of the SPIE equation is exposure. How many people are truly at risk if we're judging the risk of property damage. What does the amount of equipment we're dealing with. How many times is the task completed and so on and so on. So back to our logons dream scenario how many people are really going across this log. Well my volunteer outing isn't so successful that it has 100 people involved. It's more like a dozen people and we won't be exposing ourselves to crossing that log over and over again all day long just once across and once back again.
So I'll be generous and say that I've only got an average exposure on my volunteer outing which is a number two.
So add that to the speed equation now 2.5 times four times two. That gives me a total speed value of 20.
So my speed value of 20 tells me that I'm looking at a possible risk and then I need to give this my attention. I'm at the very low end of the possible risk category. Almost inside the slight risk category. So it probably won't take very much effort to mitigate this hazard so it becomes a LRP as low as reasonably practical. Maybe I can stretch some rope across the stream to act as a handrail for people on the balance on the log. Maybe I can bring along some rubber Niebuhr's to loan anyone who's uncomfortable crossing the log. It doesn't really matter as long as I reduce my identified risks.
So that was the risk assessment. And what's getting me is that to get a feel for the risks that are associated with very active situation. If we need to look at risk assessment for a more general operation or project. Then we want to use what's called Garnham our stands for greening. Just like the speed model we'll be assigning numeric values to the different parts of that.
The GAAR risk assessment model is most effectively used in assessing risk for more general types of jobs tasks and projects that have a variety of risk components.
The GAAR model looks at 8 mission risk factors supervision planning team selection team fitness communication contingency resources the environment and the event or operational complexity just like we learned earlier in this lesson.
Operational risk management teaches us to first define our mission or task and then identify your threats and then step three. Assessing risk is where we apply the GAAR model by assigning a numerical value to each of the eight mission risk factors.
So again we've got these exercises to be meaningful to trail. So let's set up a scenario where we can complete our assessment together. And let's make it something trivially. Let's say that we've had a very significant event. We have a lot of blow down trees loss section of trail. We need to get that real quick. So now we've already fulfilled stuff what we find our mission. Open up to Miles of trail before the National Trails Day celebration like.
Step Two requires us to identify our threats. So let's brainstorm on just what a few of those might be some trees or widow makers and may continue to fall if more winter arrives jackstraws trees have very complex tensions on the trunks and limbs and are very hazardous to buchen limb. We probably don't have enough trees chainsaw operators to effectively share the workload in that area. The area is remote. It's hard to get good cell service and emergency response personnel won't know exactly how to find us. The nearest medical facility is 45 minutes away. Even after evacuation to the
trailhead. We can't go home at the end of the day. We must camp nearby to maximize work our potential. The weather forecast says it will be hot and humid for the foreseeable future. With periodic thunderstorms in the afternoons this job will take several weeks to accomplish.
So now that we have our mission identified and have some of the hazards identified we need to assign a risk code of 1 through 10 with 10 being the most risk to each of the eight Gar elements.
This is our personal estimate of the risk. Some people will score things a little higher a little lower than you. That's fine. We're looking for some general risk indicators here once we give a score to each of the eight elements we'll add them up for a total rescore or first element is supervision.
We really didn't say much about that in our scenario did we. So without any further info to go on I'm going to sign this at a risk level five out of 10 if I learn more about supervision of this project later I can adjust my score.
Next we look at planning.
I'm thinking we have adequate time to do our planning before rushing into this situation. I know for a fact that we have plenty of existing job hazard analysis documents written safety plans and standard operating procedures in place that assist us in safety planning. I'm going to score this a three because I think we're pretty good in this regard.
Now we're on team selection. Well I know we already said that we didn't think we had enough people trained and chain operations to share such a huge workload in this part of the trail and not everyone who is trained is available right now. So I need to score this a. As far as team fitness. I'm fairly comfortable knowing our volunteers and their ability to handle something like this. I think we'd all get better rest if we weren't camping out each night. That takes a toll after a while.
I'm scoring five communications at the work site. Yikes it's really bad.
Almost no cell coverage at all in the field. The noise of chainsaws running covers up emergency whistles or yells for help. It's just a bad situation out there for communications.
This is a 9 in my opinion.
Next is contingency resources and I recall that we said we really didn't have any at all set up as things stand now. No nearby ambulance or hospital. And if we did get a phone call out to nine one one. It's really hard to describe how to find this out here.
Again I'm thinking this needs to score about nine.
The environment is always the wildcard but our trouble is this environment is already very dangerous with Widowmaker. Lots of twisted tree trunks making dangerous cutting for the Soyer is the forecast for lots of heat and humidity. My score on that is 10 even. Complexity is our final element to score for our fictitious wind event. I'll say that we're not terribly complex and the various things that we're doing we're just clearing the trail of downed trees but the kind of blow down it is makes it more complex than your usual tree down across the trail. Also the length of
time we expose ourselves to this work will be significant and that increases our complexity. I'll give it a six out of 10.
So as we see our numeric values plugged into the guard chart add up to a total score of 54. That puts us on the higher end of the moderate risk or amber risk assessment scale. Amber means caution on warning just like on a traffic light.
So we need to go back to the planning phase of this project and employ some operational risk management principles to our event. We need to get some of these things down a LRP as low as reasonably practical and get our overall score down into the green area of the guard chart.
It's not a quarter that I scored 54 and someone else may have scored it a 63 or whatever else. This is a tool that allows us to double check ourselves and make us stop and think about common elements we're at risk. Lachesis. Forces us to stop and realize we need to mitigate some risks. The numbers are just what gets us there. Anybody who wants to work more with the SPIE assessment models and the Garces models.
Please contact your National Park Service Rep and request. That we provide you with some little pocket cars that have the equations and the calculations on their footboards the car with you at all times. It's not as complicated as it seems when you use it once or twice formally to go through the full process. It starts to become second nature in the back of your head. And I'll give you a very quick example how I found myself thinking and using these things without even really realizing I was doing.
Last year I was getting ready to put up my Christmas lights on my house and I thought to myself you know.
It's never a task I've enjoyed in the past because I don't like being up on the roof. And shoes I was wearing that I have to tread lightly have a greatest hits groove and I've always tend to slide a little bit and catch myself. I was worried you know maybe at times when my wife wasn't home so I did follow her myself you know would be there to help me. So this past year without even thinking of trail say for operational leadership chapters. I just started thinking in terms of safety better. I decided I was going to do with the task a little earlier in the year when the weather was warmer and I wasn't battling ice
and snow on the roof. And I picked a day when my wife was home so there so help me if I needed help. I changed my footwear so that I had a better grip on the shingles of the roof. And. Halfway through put my Christmas lights up and sort of pat myself on the back because it was going so much better than it ever had before and I thought oh my god. I just did a gar assessment on this little Christmas break. I considered my contingencies. My my personal fitness level my communications with the way at home all those things came into play and I didn't even realize it until it just happened my head
it became very obvious. So this is very useful to you and you'll find that over time you'll get more and more adept at it become more second nature.
Thanks for watching.