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Not so blurred line between Risks and Issues!




What keeps you awake at night? Is it the sound of birds chirping away or the sound of the

roaring thunder? Or perhaps thoughts of something that has already gone wrong or may go

wrong at work? I think you might like to hear about our colleague Paul's experience. I

promise you this will finally clear the air about this burning & 'issue'


Peter works in the A&E Unit in an Acute hospital. It is a sweltering summer day and he

noticed that the air conditioning unit in the Patients waiting area had broken down. The

temperature in the waiting area was 31 degrees and the Staff and Patients were all very hot

and uncomfortable. Overcrowding further compounded this. 


Peter immediately reported the broken air-conditioning unit to the Facilities Department.

Do you think this is a Risk or an Issue? 


‘Risks’ and ‘Issues’ often get confused perhaps because & 'Issues' may have negative

consequences just like Risks! A useful way to remember the difference is: Risks are things

that might happen and stop us achieving objectives (It may be a problem tomorrow!).

Issues are things that have happened were not planned and require management action (It

is a problem today!). 


The broken air-conditioning unit Peter reported to the Facilities Department is an Issue and

not a Risk. This is because the event (broken down air-conditioning) had already happened

and required fixing. 


If however, Peter identified before this event that 'There is a Risk of poor maintenance of

air conditioning units, brought about by absence of a robust maintenance programme,

resulting in poor Patient and Staff experience'. Measures would have been put in place to

reduce this risk. 


The line between Risks and Issues is not so blurred after all! It is as clear as day.

To help you think about risk management, we can work with you and your Organisation to

put together a practical solution tailor made to suit your requirements.

© 2019 RiskArticulator. 

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