Can We Make Risk Beautiful?

If you saw this wall art, would it help you remember where the fire extinguisher was in your office?

Modifying human behaviour to embrace safer practices is at the core of good Health and Safety (H&S) and risk management in general. 

Are we using visualisations to their full potential to improve people’s understanding of “safe” and “unsafe” conduct

H&S practitioners that we speak to often share a quandary they face in encouraging safer practices; how do you get people to really think about the risks they are confronting without needing to spend lots of time reading substantial amounts of information? How can we simplify and, more effectively, convey risk information without reducing the risk appreciation?

The obvious solution is visualisation. A frequent practice is to introduce a risk matrix into the risk assessment. This is a simple visual table that focuses on the equation:

Likelihood X Severity = Risk Level

Although ubiquitous in risk management, the effectiveness of such visual tables remains unproven.  In environments where risks are more predictable and quantifiable, the matrix holds value. However, in dynamic risk situations with many unquantifiable variables, the selection of severity and likelihood is more subjective and ambiguous. See this study for more information.

Importantly, while risk managers may find these visual tables useful, do those engaging in the risks understand or pay them much attention?

In a world where data is becoming more available and valuable, how can we translate this into easy-to-understand visuals that positively move people to safer behaviour? The scuba diver with a fire extinguisher aqualung is a smart way of nudging people to appreciate fire safety. Can we do the same across other aspects of risk management?

These are questions that we keep asking at RiskPal, particularly now as we begin to plan a visualisation module for our software.

If you are a data-visuals evangelist like us – we would love to hear from you. Contact us to start conversation on how we can make risks beautiful.

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