Let's Talk Risk!
Let's Talk Risk! with Dr. Naveen Agarwal
LTR 42: State or event? Thinking clearly about hazards will help you manage risk.

LTR 42: State or event? Thinking clearly about hazards will help you manage risk.

Insights from a Let's Talk Risk! conversation with James Catmur

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We have been used to treating the term hazard as a potential source of harm1. We are also familiar with the concept of exposure to hazard in a hazardous situation2 as a necessary condition for harm3 to occur.

The question, often left unanswered, is whether the duration of exposure has any effect on the type and severity of harm experienced by the user/patient.

In this insightful conversation, James Catmur challenges us to consider the duration factor of a hazard as a factor when conducting risk assessments. Drawing on his years of experience across multiple industry sectors, James shares that considering a hazards as states or events can help us more accurately assess each risk in terms of their frequency and/or duration. As an example:

In the chemical sector, if it is a state, then the dose is what you use use to assess the risk . If it is an event, then you consider the direct impact. An explosion is the over-pressure. If it is a chemical release then how long that release is for. If you release chlorine for 30 minutes the severity would be very different from releasing for 10 seconds.

In the medical device industry, a common challenge is to consider the impact of delay in treatment. It depends on how long it lasts and what else happens during that state. There is also a difference between delay in treatment vs. denial of treatment, or service, for example as a result of a cyberattack. A clear understanding of the type and duration of delay can be helpful in a better understanding of the nature and severity of risk.

Listen to this Let’s Talk Risk! conversation with James Catmur which also includes an open discussion with the audience.

About James Catmur

James Catmur is currently the Director of JC&A Ltd., where he advises clients on risk projects in R&D implementation, safety management and risk assessments. Previously he was at Arthur D. Little in a variety of roles with increasing responsibility in a career spanning over 25 years.

About Let’s Talk Risk! with Dr. Naveen Agarwal

Let’s Talk Risk! with Dr. Naveen Agarwal is a weekly live audio event on LinkedIn, where we talk about risk management related topics in a casual, informal way. Join us at 11:00 am EST every Friday on LinkedIn.


Information and insights presented in this podcast are for educational purposes only. Views expressed by all speakers are their own and do not reflect those of their respective organizations.

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See definition 3.4 in ISO 14971:2019


See definition 3.5 in ISO 14971:2019


See definition 3.3 in ISO 14971:2019

Let's Talk Risk!
Let's Talk Risk! with Dr. Naveen Agarwal
Every Friday, Dr. Naveen Agarwal leads a Let's Talk Risk! conversation with industry colleagues to discuss practical challenges and share best practices in risk management. In the highly regulated world of medical devices, most practitioners struggle with the "how" of risk management. Regulatory requirements are complex, confusing and ever changing. Establishing an effective risk management process that satisfies the scrutiny of regulators and auditors without creating barriers to innovation is a significant challenge in the industry. Dr. Agarwal believes that no single "expert" has all the answers, and it is only when we connect, share and learn from each other that we all become better. Let us keep learning together!