Skydiving is a sport that involves many risks. Safety and risks are different thing. While the risks are measured, the safety is judged. The safety can be defined as a personal or social acceptance of a given risk.

In what regards the risks, they are measured as quantities. The probability of something to happen combined with the severity of the repercussions give the risks. The probabilities and the severity are divided into categories. The probabilities have five such categories: Frequent, Probable, Occasional, Remote and Improbable and the severity of the action has four categories: Catastrophic, Critical, Marginal and Negligible. For instance, a rubber band breaking the risk is “frequent – negligible” while for a double malfunction the risk would be “remote – catastrophic”. “Occasional – catastrophic” or “occasional – critical” are the risks encountered most often for malfunctions.

In skydiving, a risk value can be assigned to any event, based on the given definition. Observation over the years and the measurements from the test drops should be the base for the value of a risk. Yet, this doesn’t always happen.

The perception of risk

The perception of risk is sometime done on a subjective base. The values of risks are higher in case of voluntary events within control of the beholder than in the case of mandatory events that put a person beyond control. Thus, skydiving presents a greater risk than breathing air.

The events followed by dreaded results or catastrophic consequences present a higher risk. The sports and occupations also have different values of risk depending on the amount of fatalities encountered.

The perceptions of risks can also be affected by the maturation of technology. Taking the example of the power plants, a coal power plant is less risky than a nuclear power plant because people know much more things about burning coal than about nuclear technology.

The risks are also directly connected to the complexity of the system. The difficulty to understand a system is given by its complexity and together with this difficulty; the necessity increases because only by a better acknowledgement of the system, the corrections and the ways of preventing events are obtained.

The assessment of risks

Understanding a system fully and without gaps will decrease the risks of unfortunate events. A system must have no secrets for the person that operates it because if there are things that are not understood, complications may appear if an event is generated by that unknown element. Also, in a system, not only its components should be well known, but the reasons of failure too. This is obtained through observation and continuous monitoring of the systems performance. Risks can be reduced by prevention of failure or corrective plans. The causes for system failure can be human, mechanical or environmental.

The risks involved by skydiving

Values of risks can be given to any event in skydiving. The gear and technique knowledge in skydiving is the primary base of the risk value assessment. If a person knows the equipment, the parachute, the characteristics, the techniques and all the other factors involved by skydiving, he or she greatly reduces the risks of an event. If the equipment is very well known, the system performance monitoring is accurate and malfunctions can be discovered in time if they appear, decreasing thus the risks. Different ways to escape injuries also reduce the risks, therefore emergency procedures and alternative plans have been elaborated.

Understanding the gear, the parachute, its characteristics, acknowledging and using the controls properly and having preventing and correcting plans will reduce the risks and increase the effectiveness or risks assessment.