Risk management is the process of identifying, analyzing, and mitigating potential risks.  Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) need to be aware of the potential risks of the plans and decisions the organization makes and work to develop strategies to mitigate those risks.  Risks can vary in type and scope but must be accounted for in all of your planning processes.  Risk management is important because the safety of your members, the UNLV community, and all you interact with is of the utmost importance.  The key is to be proactive - make sure that you're thinking ahead and putting in place all of the safety measures that you can to ensure your event or activity goes as smoothly and safely as possible.

Factors That Can Increase Risk

When considering the potential risks associated with your events, programs, or activities, there are several factors that can inherently increase the likelihood of harm or loss and should be strongly considered in your decision-making. Some of these factors include:

  • Traveling
  • Consumption of alcohol by participants
  • Events with physical activities (i.e. sports, inflatables, dunk tanks, etc.)
  • Off-campus events
  • Contracts or agreements with third-party vendors
  • The behavior of organization members at parties or social events
  • Fire or other life safety issues

Steps to Identifying and Planning for Risk

  1. Identify the hazards – When planning an event or activity, ask what could go right, but also, what could go wrong?  How could a piece of equipment be misused?  How could a participant be potentially harmed?  There are multiple types of risks/hazards that could occur:
    • Physical – risks affecting the safety of one’s body such as injury or food poisoning
    • Reputational – risks that result in negative publicity for your organization or UNLV
    • Emotional – risks that involve the potential of your event to cause emotional distress such as harassment, fear, anxiety, discrimination, or emotional trauma
    • Financial – risks that negatively impact the fiscal stability of the organization, UNLV, or others
    • Facilities – risks that could cause property damage or loss or may prevent your event from being held, such as rain or wind
    • Sustainability – risks that pose a threat to the environment at large
  2. Assess who might be harmed and how – this could include participants, people in the surrounding area, family or friends of participants, etc.
  3. Evaluate the risks – how likely is it that the hazard will occur and how severe will the consequences be?
  4. Develop and implement a mitigation plan – see the Risk Matrix and Risk Mitigation Plan below
  5. Review and assess – review how the event went, what went well and what could have gone better, factors that hadn’t been accounted for, what the organization learned from the experience, how information can be passed to future planners, ways to improve safety planning, etc.

Using the Risk Matrix

A Risk Matrix is a tool that allows you to assess the risk of an activity or program by indexing the severity of harm against the likelihood that it may occur. In a perfect world you would eliminate all risk when planning your programs and events, but that isn’t always possible. The goal of a risk management matrix is to help you identify risks and to maintain an acceptable level of risk.

Risk Management Matrix

  • The top of this matrix asks you to identify the likelihood that negative outcomes may occur.  The left side of the matrix then asks you to determine the severity of potential outcomes.  As you identify each element of your planned program, event, or activity, use the matrix to identify the level of associated risk as either low, medium, high, or extremely high.  High risk activities should be avoided whenever possible.  For medium and low risk programs and events, methods to mitigate those risks should be identified and implemented.

Developing a Risk Mitigation Plan

Once risks are identified and categorized on the Risk Matrix, a plan needs to be developed to mitigate those risks.

Risk Mitigation Plan

  • Use the Risk Mitigation Plan template to individually list all elements of your programs, the associated risks of those elements, the potential impacts of those risks (as per the Risk Matrix), and the steps you plan to take to mitigate those risks. 

Liability Waivers

If you identify any possible risk associated with your event, activity, or behavior, all participants should complete a liability waiver. RSOs must use the standard template provided by UNLV Risk Management and General Counsel. RSO leaders are expected to store signed liability waivers for four years post-event or activity, should they be needed after the event.

RSO Liability Waiver Template

Some common activities that should always utilize liability waivers: anything that includes off-campus travel, rental of inflatables, physical activities or games, handling any chemicals, etc. Really think through the planned activities for your event or program. If potential risks were identified than anyone who will participate in that activity must complete a liability waiver before engaging in the activity.

If an Incident Occurs

What should you do if an incident occurs? First and foremost - take immediate care of any injuries, medical issues, or other safety emergencies.  This could range from getting ice for a participant who rolled their ankle to calling 911 for a life-threatening medical incident, fire, or auto accident. If the incident occurs on campus you can reach the UNLV Police Services emergency line at 702-895-3669. If the incident occurs off-campus then you should call 911 for emergencies.

The next step is to document the incident in as much detail as is possible. Create a written record of exactly what happened. Be sure to get accounts for all who were involved. Document the incident with pictures and/or video when appropriate. In addition, the incident should be reported to UNLV. If it is during business hours you can contact the Student Involvement & Activities office at 702-895-5631. Outside of business hours contact the UNLV Police Services non-emergency line at 702-895-3668. Be prepared to provide a detailed account when reporting.