Do you need a robust and auditable risk assessment to rank recreational site hazards and target your remediation strategies?

In Australia, a landslide risk assessment is usually undertaken in line with best practice guidelines published by the Australian Geomechanics Society (AGS, 2007). However the guidelines don’t contain a methodology for undertaking qualitative risk assessment for determining risk to individuals – which can be a problem for those organisations that manage recreational areas, particularly in coastal settings.

For example, landslide risk assessment could be beneficial in coastal Western Australia, where there are limestone cliffs, over-hangs and caves that present multiple hazards for recreational users.

Having the time, budget and detailed information needed to conduct a quantitative risk assessment of each and every hazard isn’t always possible – but it’s critical to understand where the areas of greatest risk are for a focused remediation spend.

Best practice

Although not presently within the AGS guidelines, Coffey has developed a qualitative landslide risk assessment methodology for assessing risk to recreational users.

Developed in line with the best practice guidelines, our methodology provides a robust, cost effective, and most importantly an auditable method for undertaking risk assessment. Combining information about the physical location with additional information such as the number of visitors accessing different parts of the coast allows risk scaling and hazard ranking to facilitate targeted remediation strategies.

Given the mobile nature of the people who use coastal recreational areas our methodology takes into account the variety of areas that could be potentially affected by any particular hazard. It also looks at the likelihood of someone actually being present in the area when a hazard occurs.

Conducting a risk assessment of each hazard in this way means the data on the relative use of each area can be separately applied by the organisation later. It can be updated without the need for revisiting the original risk assessment.

Incorporating the data within a GIS database makes it easily and readily accessible by personnel in the field, and geo-referenced photographs can be used to allow the assessment of changes to conditions in the vicinity of the hazards.

Our risk assessment methodology for recreational users of coastal areas is cost effective, auditable, and robust. It’s been developed based on existing best practice guidelines, but has been enhanced to allow risk scaling and hazard ranking, which helps organisations focus their remediation activities and budgets.

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