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Risk Assessment

General concepts

“Risk Assessment” is a method for assessing risks associated to specific kind of hazards or sources of risks. It can be applied to different fields, such as food sector (together with the HACCP Method), during the development of the environmental management systems (environmental analyses), for the assessment of working health and safety risks.

Generally, the risk assessment method can be used when we want to assess the potential hazards of an undesired event with a view to define the priority or the emergency of the measures necessary to keep it under control.

The more frequently used Risk Assessment method can be split in the three following stages:

  • Description of the object of the study;
  • Identification of potential hazards
  • Assessment of potential risks

According to the importance of the determined risk, elimination or reduction risk programs can be defined, applied and checked.


Reference terminology is the following:

  • Risk: it refers to the hazardousness of an event and it is determined by the product through P (probability of the event occurrence) and S (severity)
  • Probability (P): it refers to the probability of occurrence of the undesired event, taking into consideration the preventive measures existing at the assessment time.
  • Severity (S): also called Magnitude (M), it refers to the seriousness of the undesired event’s consequences.
  • Hazard, source of risk: it refers to the entity or the event that can cause damages.

The following table is an applicative example of the “Risk Matrix” resulted from the combination of three categories of probability and three categories of severity.

  Unlikely Likely Highly likely
Not dangerous Irrelevant Tolerable Moderate
Dangerous Tolerable Moderate Actual
Highly dangerous Moderate Actual Intolerable

The following recommendations can be associated to each of the 5 categories of risk:

  • Irrelevant: No action or document required.
  • Tolerable: No further control action required. Better solutions should be sought, such as costs-benefits and improvements, which do not involve a subsequent increase of costs. Monitoring is required in order to ensure that the control is maintained.
  • Moderate: Efforts must be made to reduce the risk, but prevention costs must be carefully assessed and limited. Steps to reduce the risk should be taken within a determined period of time.
  • Actual: Work should not begin unless the risk has been reduced. Important resources must be used to reduce the risk. This should be performed immediately.
  • Intolerable: Work should not begin unless the risk has been reduced. If it is impossible to reduce the risk even with “unlimited” resources, work should be forbidden.


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  Master in Environmental Management of Systems and Products (2005-2006)

Energiabilità: specialization course in Renewable Energy Sources for buildings