At a Risk Management Seminar recently, I heard a discussion of the unknown.  What do I mean?

  • You may know that a variable you are measuring, say, number of accidents, is a result of several other variables which you can also measure, at least approximately, such as spending on Health and Safety, training, overall activity levels … well you can make your own list.
  • Then you find the total number of accidents has gone down despite reductions in all the other variables.  What is going on?  There must be some other variable(s) affecting it that you are not taking into account.
  • If you measure al the knowns carefully, you can calculate the unknown(s).


  • Over a period you can see whether there is any change in the  unknown(s).
  • This may help you predict changes in the number of accidents.
  • It may also direct your attention to trying to identify the unknown factor(s) so as to see how you might be able to influence it or them.
  • Even if you can not, knowing the size and importance of the unknown can be important.  It can stop you putting too much effort into managing the known factors, or getting into the blame game if your efforts in that direction are unsuccessful.

So let’s go into the unknown!