Managing risk in large initiatives or facilities

Risk management in large initiatives or facilities is critical to ensure strategic objectives are met and the quality of the outputs is maintained.…

Risk management in large initiatives or facilities is critical to ensure strategic objectives are met and the quality of the outputs is maintained. It involves identifying, assessing and prioritizing risks and developing mitigation measures to either reduce the probability of occurrence of the identified risk or minimize its impact if it does occur. Risk management is not meant to eliminate risk altogether, but to reduce it to an acceptable level for the organization.

Risk management frameworks will evolve over time, as large initiatives or facilities move from design to construction to commissioning and finally to full operation. The identified risks and mitigation measures will also differ significantly depending on the size and the nature of the facility. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) identifies the following principles of risk management. Risk management should:

  • Create value – the resources expended to mitigate risk should be less than the consequence of inaction;
  • Be an integral part of organizational processes;
  • Inform decision making;
  • Explicitly address uncertainty and assumptions;
  • Be a systematic and structured process;
  • Be based on the best available information;
  • Be tailorable;
  • Take human factors into account;
  • Be transparent and inclusive;
  • Be dynamic, iterative and responsive to change;
  • Be capable of continual improvement and enhancement;
  • Be continually or periodically re-assessed.

Included below are examples of risk management activities at large facilities funded by the CFI.

Canadian Light Source (CLS)

At the Canadian Light Source (CLS), Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) is monitored by an ERM Committee that is representative of the organization. Risk identification is a continual process that involves when necessary, interviews with management, Board members and key stakeholders. For each risk, mitigation measures are identified and the risk is then rated based on its impact and likelihood. Action strategies and plans are developed to address key risks identified. The risk management framework is integrated in management planning and decision making, and is continually reviewed. When required, the risks are re-rated and the action plans are updated.

To learn more about how CLS manages its risks, consult this extract of the presentation made by CLS at the 2015 MSI workshop.

The CLS is Canada’s national centre for synchrotron research. Located at the University of Saskatchewan, the CLS is a world-class, state-of-the-art research facility.


Dean Chapman
Science Director
Phone: 306.657.3514
Email: dean.chapman [at]


SNOLAB has clearly defined risks and hazards which are monitored at the facility level through overall risk registries. The registries include information such as description of the threat, potential impact, inherent risk assessment, current controls and mitigating factors, residual risk assessment, risk owner and actions required (or completed).

At SNOLAB, risk management supports the delivery of the strategic goals, and is essential for entering in dialogue with various stakeholders and prioritizing work.

To learn more about how SNOLAB manages its risks, consult the presentation made by SNOLAB.

SNOLAB is a world-class science facility located deep underground in the operational Vale Creighton nickel mine near Sudbury. The combination of great depth and cleanliness allows extremely rare interactions and weak processes to be studied in the field of sub-atomic physics and underground research.


Samantha Kuula
Communications Officer
Phone: 705.692.7000  ext. 2222
Email: Samantha.Kuula [at]

Related topics

Developing a strategic plan for large initiatives or facilities
Managing user access for large initiatives or facilities