How to measure efficiency in risk prevention?

Magnus Johansson
Henrik Jaldell
Lars Nyberg
Ramona Bergman
Erik Persson

Risk assessment methods form corner stones in the striving to reduce risks and threats to human life and society. Proposed actions can be physical or non-physical and adopted or declined after political evaluation, with consideration taken to available resources and estimated effect on risk. To optimize and avoid regrettable actions, decision-makers are in need of well-founded analyses of how efficient different options might be. Analytically, there are several possible steps that can contribute.

Firstly, the correlation between a measure and its effect should be based on causality, which often is difficult to establish quantitatively. High frequent accidents (e.g. traffic) can normally be treated statistically , while low frequent accidents with severe consequences (e.g. natural hazards) are more restricted to qualitative descriptions of correlation. Systematic monitoring of injury and damage data and gathering into databases, are a crucial activity for causality valuation. Secondly, economic valuation of effect is an important contribution in a cost-benefit perspective. Thirdly, a measure often brings several different effects and some may fall outside the actual purpose. An additional problem is how to handle effects that exert varied influence on different stakeholders or social groups in society. Fourthly, certain criteria are required for final prioritization. For instance, in analysis of goal fulfillment, effects are compared with politically decided quantified goals.

In cases where basic data from steps 1-3 are incomplete, alternative criteria like “acceptable risk” might be necessary to agree about politically. To use similar approaches on how to describe and quantify effect correlations, promote gathered efforts at local level where risk reducing measures are decided upon by different actors and with regard to diverse local conditions. Tests of suitable methods and approaches to measure efficiency of planned or accomplished actions in gain for risk prevention, are described and discussed.

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