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Risk Terminology

Last updated 4th May, 2016

To better understand the risk in any area, it is necessary to be aware of the various terms used and what they mean.

The risk assessment process used in Derbyshire is taken from the statutory guidance Emergency Preparedness which supports the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. Additional restricted guidance is issued annually by the Government.

Given below is a summary of useful definitions taken from this guidance and other supporting documentation and explains the current process in more detail.

Risk – is defined as the product of the likelihood and impact of a given hazard or threat.

Hazard – for the purpose of this process describes the potential to cause harm by something accidental or naturally occurring.

Threat – for the purpose of this process describes the potential to cause harm as a result of intentional malicious actions, and includes terrorism.

Impact – is a measure of the severity of the potential harm caused by the hazard or threat. In this risk assessment process the impacts on health, the economy, the environment and social impacts are considered:

  • casualties
  • fatalities
  • economic
  • social
  • psychological

Each impact is given a rating of 1 to 5, described as:

1 = limited
2 = minor
3 = moderate
4 = significant
5 = catastrophic

Likelihood – is the probability of an incident related to a hazard or threat, occurring over the next five years. The likelihood is given a rating of 1 to 5, described as:

1 = low
2 = medium low
3 = medium
4 = medium high
5 = high

Definitions of risk ratings

Very high (VH) risk – these are classed as primary or critical risks requiring immediate and ongoing attention. They may have a high or low likelihood of occurrence, but their potential consequences are such that they must be treated as a high priority. This may mean that strategies should be developed to reduce or eliminate the risks, but also that mitigation in the form of (multi-agency) planning, exercising and training for these hazards should be put in place and the risk monitored on a regular frequency. Consideration should be given to planning being specific to the risk rather than generic.

High (H) risk – these risks are classed as significant. They may have a high or low likelihood of occurrence, but their potential consequences are sufficiently serious to warrant appropriate consideration after those risks classed as very high. Consideration should be given to the development of strategies to reduce or eliminate the risks, but also mitigation in the form of at least (multi-agency) generic planning, exercising and training should be put in place and the risk monitored on a regular frequency.

Medium (M) risk – these risks are less significant but may cause upset and inconvenience in the short term. These risks should be monitored to ensure that they are being appropriately managed and consideration given to their being managed under generic emergency planning arrangements.

Low (L) risk – these risks are both unlikely to occur and not significant in their impact. They should be managed using normal or generic planning arrangements and require minimal monitoring and control unless subsequent risk assessments show a substantial change, prompting a move to another risk category.

If you want to know more

Should you have any questions about the risk assessment process or the continuing work of the Risk Assessment Working Group:

Contact: Joanna Procter
Tel: 01629 536633

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