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Learn from a Risk Matrix Example in Excel

We can apply a risk matrix to a set of data to determine the risk that a hazard poses. We can do this with the INDEX and MATCH function. In this Matrix, the Y-axis tells us the SEVERITY of the risk involved and the X-axis tells us the LIKELIHOOD of occurrence of the RISK. Hence, the RISK of a hazard is calculated as:

Risk of hazard = likelihood of occurrence (probability) * Severity of harm

We will walk through the steps below to understand the process.

Figure 1: How to Use a Risk Matrix

Formula

The formula in Cell D13 is given as:

=INDEX(C5:G9,MATCH(Severity,B5:B9,0),MATCH(Likelihood,C4:G4,0))

Setting up the Data

We will set up the risk matrix by doing the following:

  • We will type the severity on the Y-axis (Cell B5 to Cell B9)
  • We will type the likelihood on the X-axis (Cell C4 to Cell G4)
  • We will input the numbers as shown in figure 2 in the range of C5:G9
  • Cell C11, C12, and C13 will be named likelihood, severity, and result respectively
  • Cell D11 and D12 will be named as RARE and MODERATE respectively

Figure 2: Setting up the Risk Matrix Data

Determining the Risk

  • We will click on Cell E11
  • We will type in this string: =MATCH(D11,C4:G4,0)
  • Click on Enter
  • Likewise, we will click on Cell E12
  • We will type in this string: =MATCH(D12,B5:B9,0)
  • We will click on Enter

Figure 3: Determining the Result of the Inputted Data in the Risk Matrix

We will type the formula below into Cell D13

=INDEX(C5:G9,MATCH(D12,B5:B9,0),MATCH(D11,C4:G4,0))

Figure 4: Determining the Result of the Inputted Data in the Risk Matrix

We will press enter

Figure 5: Result of the Inputted Data in the Risk Matrix

Explanation

  • MATCH function

The match function matches the lookup value within a specified range and we have set it to return an exact match. For instance, when determining the likelihood in the example, we typed in the string below:

=MATCH(D11,C4:G4,0)

D11 is the lookup value, C4:G4 is the range and zero indicates an exact match.

The same scenario applies to determine the severity.

  • INDEX function

The INDEX function returns the number or value that is present in ROW 3 and COLUMN 2 based on this string: =INDEX(C5:G9,E11,E12)

This method is preferred to the ALTERNATIVE METHOD because we can vary the SEVERITY and LIKELIHOOD in Cells D11 and D12 respectively to AUTOMATICALLY get the result.

Alternative method

  • We will click on Cell D13
  • We will type the string below into the Cell
    =INDEX(C5:G9,MATCH(D12,B5:B9,0),MATCH(D11,C4:G4,0))
  • We will click on Enter

Figure 6: Result of the Alternative method of applying the Risk Matrix

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