Category Archive: risk

Feb
22
2012

ISO 31000: Dr Rorschach meets Humpty Dumpty

Much advice is proffered in cyberspace about how to manage risk: at the time of writing, tapping “risk management” into Google yielded 72 million hits. Do you sometimes (frequently?) on reading risk management guidance get to the end without a clue as to what the guide expects you, the risk manager, to actually do? I …

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Jan
13
2012

What is risk?

A new book from Cambridge University Press – Successful Science communication, (Bennett and Jennings eds.) – contains 26 chapters with helpful things to say to people concerned to communicate complex ideas to “the public”. Plus a chapter by me entitled Not 100% sure? The “public” understanding of risk; the reader is left to judge whether …

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Jan
08
2012

Thinking Streets

A recent BBC radio 4 programme entitled Thinking Streets takes listeners on a refreshing tour of traffic management schemes that are elevating the status of pedestrians and cyclists relative to that of those in motor vehicles. The effect, as researcher/presenter, Angela Saini notes, is civilizing – while also reducing accidents. The programme features Ben Hamilton-Baillie, who …

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Jul
08
2011

Reducing zero risk

Judith Hackitt head of the UK Health and Safety Executive, has recently been complaining about “the creeping culture of risk-aversion and fear of litigation” and the “jobsworths” responsible for its promotion. The HSE appears to be losing the battle. Below I set out a piece that I was asked to write for my local tenants and …

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Feb
08
2011

Two methods of transport-safety myth building

1. Simple assertion. An example can be found in the current issue of The Economist by the journal’s Science and Technology correspondent writing under the name of Babbage (http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2011/02/road_safety).  Babbage notes that the US fatality rate has been “inching down over the past half century” and then proceeds to explain why: it is the result …

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Dec
02
2010

Managing transport risks: what works?

I have been invited to contribute a chapter to a book called Risk Theory Handbook to be published by Springer. Publication is scheduled for a year from now, so there is still time to make changes/corrections/improvements. Comments are welcomed. Here is the abstract. Abstract What does a transport safety regulator have in common with a …

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Sep
14
2010

The Nanny State (again)

In the news this morning is the story of 7 year old Isabelle allowed by her parents to walk 20 metres from her front door to catch the school bus.  Nanny, in the form of Lincolnshire County Council, discovered this case of parental neglect and threatened the parents with a child protection order. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-11295617 and …

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Aug
31
2010

The pursuit of resilience

Resilience is a relative quality. There are no units by which it can be measured, but some have more of it than others. The ability to prevent bad things happening, and to mitigate their consequences and speed recovery when they do, is not equitably distributed. (full essay here)

Jun
09
2010

Should we ever take risks just to build resilience?

This question was put ot me by an interesting website – Science and Religion Today . Not my usual stomping ground but, having reassured myself that they were defenders of Darwin, I decided they deserved an answer. Here it is: The pursuit of resilience involves risk management. The figure below describes the essence of this …

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Oct
28
2009

Moral hazard: bonuses, seat belts and condoms

(If experiencing problems with IE7, please try Firefox, Opera or Safari) “Moral hazard” is a term that dates back to the 1600s. Until recent times its use has been mostly confined to the insurance industry to refer to behaviour that responds to changes in perceived risk. The industry has noticed that people who have contents …

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