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Safety Risk Management

Leaders at all levels are responsible for ensuring that their personnel conduct operations in a safe and well-planned environment. 

As the saying goes: "Everyone is responsible for safety." 


Compliance with CAP Regulation 160-1

CAPR 160-1 Civil Air Patrol Safety Program (Chapter 3: Safety Risk Management) provides the directive for Safety Risk Management of all CAP activities. Compliance with CAPR 160-1 is mandatory. 

This web page is intended to provide further guidance and explanation of SRM principles and is not intended to substitute or deviate from CAP regulation.


A System-Based Approach to Decision Making

Safety Risk Management (SRM) follows a 5-step process to identify what can go wrong and put into place fixes (or mitigations) to prevent "bad stuff from happening." 

Using the following steps, we conduct SRM to identify hazards, mitigate risks, and monitor our risk controls: 

  1. Identify Hazards:  What can hurt us or cause problems? — A hazard is "somethings that exist" which can be problematic.

    Examples of hazards:  noisy machinery, downed power line, flying debris severe wind, fatigue

  2. Assess Risks:  What are the possible outcomes of being exposed to these hazards? — A risk is the potential consequence of a hazard going unmitigated (uncontrolled).Risks are assessed using a risk matrix to measure how severe the risk is compared to the possibility (likelihood) of that consequence occurring. This measurement of risk is where Civil Air Patrol establishes rules as to how much risk we can accept (tolerate) in our operations and activities. 

    Examples of risks:  hearing damage (noisy machinery), electrocution (downed power line), damage to property (flying debris from severe wind), poor decision making (fatigue).

  3. Develop Controls & Make Decisions:  What can we do to reduce risk? What actions will we take? — Risk controls do not eliminate risk; they only reduce our exposure to that risk. If we wanted a 0% chance of "bad stuff" occurring, we would cancel the operation altogether. As long as we operate, we will still face some exposure to unsafe possibilities. By determining what controls we can put into place to reduce risk, and making appropriate decisions to enact those controls (e.g., establish standard operating procedures, train personnel, create advisories and safety briefings), we can increase our safety precautions.

    Examples of risk controls:  hearing protection, road blocks, moving vehicles and equipment indoors, rest schedules/breaks

  4. Implement Controls:  How will we actually make it work? — The implementation of risk controls is usually the toughest challenge. While we can, generally, develop risk control relatively easily, we often find that these controls are impediments (barriers) to the ease of the operation. Risk controls may come with additional challenges (known as substitute risks) which often make it difficult for activity leaders to follow through on implementing their controls. Nonetheless, the intent of a risk control is to reduce risk; and sometimes, that may come at the cost of conducting a more difficult but better-planned operation. 

    Examples of substitute risk: high cost of materials (budgetary impacts), different route for vehicle traffic (longer drive times; increased fuel burn), lack of storage space (additional facility needs and/or costs), longer activities (delayed mission accomplishment; lack of facilities available for use)

  5. Supervise & Evaluate:  Are we doing what we say we're doing? Are we actually reducing risk? — Two key parts of mitigating risk include (1) ensuring that risk controls are actually implemented, and (2) ensuring that the controls we implemented are actually effective at mitigating the targeted risk. When create a plan to implement controls, leaders should also create a plan to monitor the effectiveness of those controls during their implementation while the activity is being conducted. This may come in the form of periodic checks during the activity to ensure that controls are effective, looking at weather forecasts to see if the controls will remain relevant, and/or reviewing the effectiveness of controls during post-activity After-Action Reviews (AARs)...among a number of other ways to continue to measure the risk to see if the plan is successfully working. 

The key to understanding SRM as a system-based approach is that the process is continuous—meaning that it starts over to reidentify the existing hazards and look for any new hazards previously unthought of (requiring new mitigation strategies). 


When is SRM required (in CAP)?

NOTE:  All forms shown on this page are samples only and should not be used as they may be updated by CAP at any time. Current versions of these forms are available on the CAP Forms website. 


Civil Air Patrol requires SRM to be conducted in advance of activity or program execution (i.e., before you start the event...before people even show up). 

CAP classifies SRM into two categories: 

  1. Deliberate Risk Management — Implementing the 5-step SRM process as part of activity planning

  2. Real-Time Risk Management — Ongoing SRM to make decisions while an activity is already underway


Deliberate RM must be conducted: 

  • Any time a squadron activity is conducted for the first time

  • Any time a squadron activity is conducted at a new venue

  • When there is a significant change is the members involved in an activity's planning, execution, or supervision

  • Any time a unit receives custody of a new model aircraft or Civil Air Patrol vehicle

  • For activities that are conducted outside of the normal scope of unit activities (e.g., road trips, air show support, squadron moves/facility relocation, organized cadet trips and field trips, etc.)

  • For events lasting longer than 24 hours

*For recurring events (same venue, same activity plan), a Deliberate RM is not required every time. In such cases, the first activity of the series requires a Deliberate RM. It is recommended that a Deliberate RM be conducted each year to review the activity plan for any missed or unassumed changes. 

To conduct Deliberate RM, use the CAP Form 160 Deliberate Risk Assessment Worksheet. Instructions for completion are included on the last page of the form.


Real-Time RM is conducted throughout an activity's lifecycle to continue to monitor and mitigate risks as they may evolve during an activity.

Sample Scenario of Real-Time RM:  An activity is planned to be conducted on a hot summer day. Hydration and rest breaks are scheduled throughout the day, and shade canopies will be provided.

On the morning of the activity, the weather forecast indicates that thunderstorms may begin to develop around noon. The activity team reassesses the plan and considers that high winds and hail may damage canopies and potentially injure participants. The decision is made to include an emergency evacuation plan from the event site to relocate to a covered, permanent outdoor shelter house in the event that the weather deteriorates.

As the day progresses, the weather forecast no longer predicts thunderstorms; however, the climate is becoming notably humid, and activity participants are drinking twice the amount of water as anticipated. The activity team assesses the weather, once again, and determines that an additional hydration supply will run low before the activity concludes. The decision is made to send two members to purchase additional water while the participants are afforded an extra 30 minutes to rest to reduce the water intake. 

To conduct Real-Time RM, use the CAP Form 160S Real Time Risk Assessment Worksheet

Civil Air Patrol also provides to CAP Form 160HL Hazard Listing Worksheet to help identify hazards and list risk controls. The Hazard Listing Worksheet is not required but is highly encouraged to support conducting your risk assessment and mitigation. This form is already included as part of the CAPF 160 for Deliberate RM. 


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