Tree Risk Assessment - What is the Risk of Harm?

2023-09-09 10:24 AM | Admin (Administrator)

As part of our ongoing efforts to take the bafflegab out of tree risk with our Mind Your Language series.

Let's have a look at why the phrase Risk of Harm grinds our gears.

Here are 5 reasons to stop using Risk of Harm when we're talking about the risk from trees or branches failing.

Likelihood of Occupancy
Likelihood of Failure

1) Doublespeak?
Harm (Consequences) is one of the risk inputs that's used to work out what the risk output is.

It makes little sense to have just one of the risk inputs being carried over and repeated as a risk output.

The Risk of Harm is the same as saying, the Risk of Consequences.

It's even odder when you consider the other risk inputs, the Likelihood of Occupancy or Likelihood of Failure, aren’t repeated in the risk output. They're left behind.

When we're talking about what the risk is, we don’t say.

The Risk of Occupancy.


The Risk of Tree Failure

Here's the Risk of Harm issue framed in a Q&A format.

Q) What’s the risk of that branch falling onto someone and injuring them?

A) The risk is Acceptable.

Or, you could say.

A) The risk of the branch falling onto someone and injuring them is Acceptable

It's odd to say.

A) The Risk of Harm is Acceptable.

It’s odd because you’ve carried over the injuring someone Consequences in the question through to the answer and labelled it Harm.

Yet, you’ve not carried through the Likelihood of the person being hit. Or the Likelihood of the branch failing from the question over to the answer. Both Likelihood inputs have been left behind.

The Risk is ALL three elements.

2) Do trees deliberately inflict injury?
Harm is defined as a physical injury to a person that's been deliberately inflicted.

Given the amount of abuse trees get from people, it'd be difficult to blame them if they did deliberately inflict physical injury on us.

Of course, a tree can kill or injure us, but it can't deliberately inflict injury on us by falling or shedding a branch.

3) Isn't death a worse Consequence than harm?

Obviously, death is a greater Consequence than a physical injury, or harm.

If the Consequences are a death, then Risk of Harm is diluting the Consequences input.

4) Can property be harmed?
Damaged or destroyed, yes. But deliberately injured?

5) Less makes more sense
Risk, instead of Risk of Harm, removes two redundant words, that aren't helping us understand what we're measuring.

Risk is both simpler and clearer than Risk of Harm.


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