Managing Risk Assessment Stakeholder Engagement Processes: A Case Study

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Risk engineers conduct comprehensive risk assessments for many types of large projects, often singularly focused on the technical assessment and its value to the technical engineering team. Limiting or excluding community stakeholder involvement from the assessment process increases stakeholder skepticism, apprehension, and mistrust regarding safety, health and welfare of those stakeholders living or working nearby. Social experts have repeatedly documented connections between perception framing, communication processes, and risks. This research considers the connections between stakeholder perceptions and communication plans associated with risks listed in the risk register, and communication plans designed based upon including social expert suggestions for six projects: three bio-safety laboratories; two levee system assessment projects; and one Superfund site. The project risk assessment value is researched through the lens of risk perception and communication planning via the risk register. The concept of a Risk Perception Management (RPM) Plan developed in collaboration with social science experts and integrated with the risk register is presented. This research shows how the RPM concept iteratively captures stakeholder perceptions to build associated communication plans, thus increasing risk assessment value for stakeholders and decision-makers.