Hazard Identification Risk Assessment


Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment

A core challenge faced by emergency managers is how to prevent, prepare, mitigate, respond and recover from a myriad of hazards. Several questions arise when faced with this challenge:

  • What hazards exist in my area?
  • How frequently do they occur?
  • How severe can their impact be on the community, infrastructure, property, and the   environment?
  • Which hazards pose the greatest threat to the community?

A Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) assists emergency managers in answering these questions. It is a systematic risk assessment tool that can be used to assess the risks of various hazards.

There are three reasons why a HIRA is useful to the emergency management profession:

  • It helps emergency management professionals prepare for the worst and/or most likely risks.
  • Allows for the creation of exercises, training programs, and plans based on the most likely scenarios.
  • Saves time and resources by isolating hazards that cannot occur in the designated area.

The 2012 Provincial HIRA

With the creation of the Emergency Management Act, Ontario entered a new phase in its mandatory emergency management programs which focused on a risk-based approach. The first step outlined by the Act to reduce risks is to identify the hazards and assess their associated risks to determine which hazards are most likely to result in an emergency. In order to do this in a successful manner, systematic risk assessments (such as a HIRA) can be used to shift the focus of emergency management programs away from being merely reactive to also being pro-active. The addition of a pro-active approach to emergency management through a stronger focus on prevention, preparedness, mitigation, in addition to response and recovery can result in a more disaster-resilient Province of Ontario.

The Ontario Provincial HIRA provides guidance for risk assessment for natural, technological and man-made hazards in accordance with the definition of an emergency in the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. This document has been generated for use at a Provincial level; however, the process contained within can be adopted at a ministry, municipal or private sector level.

Supporting Resources