Position Statement: ILS Risk Assessment Framework

TitlePosition Statement: ILS Risk Assessment Framework
Publication TypeILS Position Statement
Corporate AuthorsInternational Life Saving Federation,
Year of Publication2008
Date Published05/2008
Citation Key1789
Full Text


Risk management can be defined as a logical and systematic approach of identifying, analysing, assessing, treating, monitoring and communicating risks associated with any activity or process. In its Guidelines for safe recreational water environments (Vol.1) the World Health Organization states: 'Assessment of hazard and risk inform the development of policies for controlling and managing risks to health and well-being in water recreation...' The assessment of a beach or water should take into account several key considerations including:

  • the presence and nature of natural or artificial hazards
  • the severity of the hazard as related to health outcomes
  • the availability and applicability of remedial actions
  • the frequency and density of use
  • the level of development.


The purpose of hazard and risk assessment is to assess the probability that certain events will take place and assess the potential adverse impact these events may have on people, property or the environment or other adverse outcomes. ILS sees the implementation of risk assessments for all aquatic locations as a key element of the strategies to reduce injury and loss of life or other adverse impact in the aquatic environment. To facilitate the ongoing development of risk assessment models that meet the needs of member nations a criteria for the development of risk assessments that allow member nations to submit models for endorsement. A generic framework and the main elements of the risk management process identified are:

  • Communication and consultation
  • Establish the context
  • Risk identification
  • Risk analysis
  • Risk evaluation
  • Development of a risk mitigation plan
  • Monitor and review

The model submitted should ideally:

  • Provide a systematic framework for the evaluation of hazards and risk
  • Comply with relevant legal and regulatory requirements and international norms
  • Be proactive rather than reactive
  • Meet the needs of lifesaving services in the submitting nation
  • Be based on the best available information
  • Be based on best practice and where possible make use of sound science

Framework for the endorsement of Risk Assessment

Does the model address the following?

1. Communication and consultation

Key stakeholders both internal and external are identified and engaged A responsible person or persons are identified The option of establishing a working group considered

2. Establish the context

  • Identify any historical data and statistics
  • Determine the legislative framework
  • Determine if there are any other advisory standards or guidelines
  • Determine if there are any other criteria to be achieved
  • Determine technical expertise required
  • Identify benchmarks
  • Identify the need for external advice / consultancy

3. Conduct the risk assessment

3a. Risk identification

  • Establish the operational environment
  • Establish a systematic framework for identifying hazards

3b. Risk analysis

  • Determine what can happen
  • Determine who might be harmed and how
  • Identify other potential negative impacts
  • Determine likelihood and consequences

3c. Risk evaluation

  • Establish a 'score'
  • Set risk priorities

4. Development of a risk mitigation plan

  • Identify existing control measures (if any)
  • Evaluate existing control measures
  • Identify other treatment options
  • Evaluate treatment options

5. Monitor and review

  • Establish review date(s)
  • Establish criteria for an immediate re-evaluation


  1. Allen Consulting Group, 2005, Valuing an Australian Icon
  2. Australian/New Zealand Standard® AS/NSZ 4360:2004, Risk Management
  3. CDC, 2001, Lifeguard effectiveness report
  4. Health and Safety Executive, revised 06/06, INDG163 (rev2), Five steps to risk assessment
  5. Monash University, 2002, Feasibility of identifying family friendly beaches along Victoria's coastline
  6. RNLI, 2005, A guide to beach safety signs, flags and symbols
  7. RNLI, 2007, A guide to coastal public rescue equipment
  8. RoSPA/ILSE (UK and European versions), Safety on Beaches
  9. RLSS/CIEH Principles and Practice for Beach Risk Assessment
  10. ILSE Risk Assessment Guidelines 2007
  11. University of Waikato, 2005, Literature review of beach award and rating systems
  12. USLA, 1980, Guidelines for establishing open-water recreational beach standards
  13. WHO, 2003, Facts about injuries â€" Drowning
  14. WHO, 2003, Guidelines for safe recreational waters Volume 1 - Coastal and fresh waters


ILS Lifesaving Commission 18 May 2008

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