As a small unit leader, there is a good chance you will be responsible to fill out a DA Form 7566 (Composite Risk Management Worksheet) at some point or another in your career. Whenever you are responsible for a training event, your chain of command will ask you to fill out the worksheet and submit it to your unit leaders to keep on file. You’ll also enclose a copy with your OPORD and post one at your training site.
The purpose of using this form is two-fold. First and foremost, it is often used as a CYA (cover your ass) in case something goes wrong during training. Filling out the form ahead of time shows that you at least “did your initial planning” and “thought through the potential hazards.” It doesn’t mean you won’t get in trouble if something goes wrong. But not having one puts a big target on your back.
In addition, it helps leaders “identify” and “think through” the hazards associated with the scheduled training, so they can come up with controls to minimize and mitigate those hazards. To me, this is the real value of using this form and completing your own risk assessment.
I highly encourage all leaders to put some thought into this process and don’t rush it. Even though it might be inconvenient and time consuming to fill out the DA Form 7566, there are benefits of conducting the exercise and filling out the worksheet.
What I want to do in the paragraphs below is share a few tips to help you do this with ease. These are just some tips I learned during my military career. Yes, most of these tips are common sense, but you would be surprised how many young military leaders don’t know much about the process.
# 1 Do It Ahead of Time
One of the best tips I can share with you is to complete your risk assessment at least one week ahead of time (if possible). The benefit of doing this is that you will get to “review” the document several times before it is due and make any required changes. When you procrastinate and wait to the last minute, it’s easy to miss things. I’ve found that when I did risk assessments one or two weeks ahead of time, I would make several changes to improve it, as time went by. This allowed me to create a quality, finished product.
# 2 Build a Library of Risk Assessments
Another great tip is to build up your own library of risk assessments. You can get these from your chain of command, online, or from your peers. Find a pre-made risk assessment for all types of different events such as convoys, ranges, APFT, and more. The benefit of doing this is that you won’t have to create your risk assessment from scratch. You can use one from your library as a template and just make minor changes.
# 3 Have Someone Review It
Have your officer or NCO counterpart review your risk assessment before you turn it in. Have them “eagle eye” it and see if there is anything you missed. A good, fresh set of eyes can make a big difference.
# 4 Educate Yourself
At a bare bones minimum, read FM 5-19 to learn more about risk assessments. In addition, it might be in your best interest to sit down with an experienced NCO or officer in your unit and have them give you a class on how to do them the right way. Finally, spend some time and review DA Form 7566 so you know what information needs to go on it.
Doing a good risk assessment is very important for the safety of your soldiers. The major benefit is not the finished piece of paper. Instead, the major benefit is the process you went through to identify all of the hazards and to come up with control measures to minimize or mitigate those hazards.
What are your thoughts? What tips can you offer our readers about doing risk assessments the right way? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.