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Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment: Analysis of a Risk Assessment Process in Emergency Preparedness
University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Computer and Geospatial Sciences.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

A challenging yet crucial component of emergency planning is to identify relevant hazards and assess their risk level. Within the Province of Ontario, Canada, governmental emergency management stakeholders are required to use the Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) process, developed by the Province, to meet legislative compliance. The HIRA process is based on the use of risk matrices and hence faces many of the inherent challenges of this method, potentially resulting in a poor risk assessment process with a low quality outcome. The aim of this thesis is to analyze Ontario’s Provincial HIRA process to identify weaknesses, strengths, and gaps, in order to increase understanding for potential issues related to this type of hazard identification and risk assessment process within emergency preparedness. The Provincial HIRA process will be analyzed, as it is implemented in the Regional Municipality of York, including the Public Health Unit, by comparing the process to six points identified in the literature as potential challenges with the ability to compromise the quality of a risk assessment process. The main focus is on the use of risk matrices although some aspects more generally related to risk assessments have been included. Overall the Provincial HIRA has several weaknesses and gaps. It is evident that the process demonstrates many of the issues that impair the quality of risk assessments supported by the use of risk matrices such as ambiguous input and out-puts, errors, poor resolution and sub-optimal resource allocation. Additionally, a significant amount of resources and access to hazard subject matter expertise would be required to execute the HIRA in accordance with the guideline. Such resources are not necessarily available to the target audience. All these aspects contribute to a risk assessment process that struggles to meet one of its main objectives, to provide the user with a quantitative risk ranking with the capacity to distinguish between risk levels of different hazards. Subsequently the outcome may not accurately support the emergency planning or the decision making process related to resource allocation.

Abstract [sv]

Identifiering av lokalt relevanta faror och bedömning av deras risknivåer är en kritisk och komplex del av arbetsområdet beredskap för nödsituationer (eng. emergency preparedness). Myndigheter som bedriver verksamhet inom detta område i provinsen Ontario, Kanada  är enligt lag skyldiga att genomföra en ”Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment” (HIRA) process, utvecklad av provinsen. HIRA-metoden är baserad på användandet av risk matriser och står således inför många av denna metods inneboende utmaningar vilket kan resultera i svag riskbedömningsprocess med tvivelaktigt resultat. Syftet med denna uppsats är att analysera Ontarios HIRA-process för att identifiera potentialla svagheter, styrkor och luckor i processen och således generera insikt i potentiella utmaningar relaterat till denna typ av riskbedömningsprocess inom ”emergency preparedness”.  HIRA-processen, så som den implementerats i York Region och inom dess folkhälsomyndighet, kommer att analyseras baserat på sex punkter identifierade inom litteraturen som aspekter med förmåga att påverka kvalitén på riskdömningsresultatet. Sammanfattningsvis ses att HIRA-processen innefattar många av de svagheter som diskuteras i litteraturen rörande riskmatriser som till exempel fel, tvetydig in- och utdata, dålig upplösning och suboptimal resursfördelning vilket potentiellt medför en riskbedömningsprocess av låg kvalité. För att genomföra HIRA-processen så som metoden är designad behöver användaren investera en betydande mängd resurser samt helst tillgå expertis inom riskbedömning relaterat till de olika farorna som skall bedömas, vilket inte alltid finns tillgängligt inom de organisationen som genomför en HIRA. Dessa aspekter sammantaget bidrar till en process som inte nödvändigtvis når fram till ett av sina primära mål; att skapa en kvantitativ rangordning av risker med förmåga att särskilja olika farors risknivå. Till följd finns en risk att resultatet av riskbedömning inte stödjer den operativa planeringen eller processen för beslutsfattande relaterad till resursfördelning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 39
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-31318OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-31318DiVA, id: diva2:1379619
Subject / course
Decision, risk and policy analysis
Educational program
Decision, risk och policy analysis - master’s programme (one year)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-12-20 Created: 2019-12-17 Last updated: 2019-12-20Bibliographically approved

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