This guide walks you through the basics of a 5x5 risk matrix: its definition, importance, components, and usage.
Updated 30 Nov 2022, Published 29 Apr 2022
A type of risk matrix that is visually represented as a table or a grid, a 5x5 risk matrix has 5 categories each for probability (along the X axis) and impact (along the Y axis), all following a scale of low to high. As a comprehensive tool used by organizations during the risk assessment stage of project planning, operations management, or job hazard analysis, a 5x5 risk matrix aims to identify the probability and impact levels of injury and risk exposure to a worker in relation to workplace hazards. Further, it can serve as a supplementary tool in evaluating the possible damage or disruption brought about by risks.
For most organizations, having a tool to visually represent risk assessments is paramount to effective operations management. Aside from the purpose of objectively rating risks based on their probability of occurrence and impact levels, a 5×5 risk matrix helps provide an easy-to-follow guide for future risk rating processes whenever a new hazard is identified.
This tool allows Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) professionals conduct thorough risk assessments, having 5 rating levels for each component for a more accurate analysis. With the 5×5 risk matrix explained, compared to other versions like 3×3 and 4×4, the 5×5 version provides a more thorough way of rating risks using a 5-point scale.
Ultimately, the two main advantages of this using this tool are the following:
5×5 Risk Matrix Sample
Color-coding is crucial for a 5×5 risk assessment matrix to represent the combination level of probability and impact of the identified risks. That said, high risks must be in red, moderate risks in yellow (amber), and low risks in green. Organizations, EHS professionals, and project managers can then use other closely-related colors, such as orange, light red, and light green, to differentiate the specific risk ratings.
A 5×5 risk matrix also aims to answer the question “What are the 5 risk rating levels in the risk assessment matrix?” A 5×5 risk matrix has two axes, or components to put it simply, that make up the whole table or grid: the Probability and the Impact. Under the two are 5 risk rating levels used to calculate risks.
Also called likelihood, the Probability (x axis) pertains to the extent of how likely it is for the risk to occur. The 5 risk rating levels under this component are as follows:
Also called severity or consequences, the Impact (y axis) aims to determine the level of effects that the hazard can cause to workplace health and safety.
While a 5×5 risk matrix can be tailored to the needs of an organization, the following represent the general terms used to describe the 5 levels to determine the risk’s impact:
Each risk box represents the rating of a risk that is calculated based on its particular levels of probability and impact. In most cases, the 5×5 risk matrix uses numeric values to better represent the risk ratings.
Probability x Impact = Risk Level
The first step is to assign a numeric value from 1 to 5, 1 being the lowest, for each of the categories under Probability and Impact. Then, use the formula of multiplying the value of the Probability to the value of Impact to determine the Risk Level.
To better understand how the various levels indicate the Probability and Impact, here’s a guide on the numeric values and their representation as a result of the analysis:
With these, you can improve your existing risk control measures as needed, and recommend further actions that your EHS and quality managers can reinforce toward a proactive safety culture.
5×5 Risk Matrix Example | 5×5 Risk Matrix Template by SafetyCulture
Here are some industry examples of when and how to use a 5×5 risk matrix.
ISO 45001:2018, an international standard covering best practices toward employee safety amidst workplace risks, is an example of where using a 5×5 risk matrix is greatly helpful. Since this standard aims to help reduce work-related risk for workers, the management can then use risk assessment tools such as a 5×5 risk matrix to aid in decision-making to mitigate or eliminate workplace hazards.
As part of an organization’s thorough quality risk management system, evaluating risks during the risk analysis stage is best done by using tools such as a 5×5 risk matrix. This can then result in a quantified expression of risk, having the output of the risk assessment as a numeric value or a qualitative description on the level of risk.
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Quality managers, EHS professionals, and organization leaders must maximize technology to identify risks, list identified hazards, conduct assessments, and come up with strategies to promote continuous improvement.
Using a dynamic mobile app solution such as SafetyCulture is the best example of how teams can streamline risk assessments by doing the following:
Patricia Guevara is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture. With her extensive content writing and copywriting experience, she creates high-quality content across a variety of relevant topics. She aims to promote workplace safety, operational excellence, and continuous improvement in her articles. She is passionate about communicating how technology can be used to streamline work processes, empowering companies to realize their business goals.
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