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Hazardex 2019 Conference Presentations - Barrier-based learning from incidents

Author : Paul McCulloch - Risk Management Process Safety & Implementation, CGE

20 November 2018

Effective learning from incidents is critical for any organisation. The reasons leading to many incidents with an organisation are often not new as incidents are repeat events or events that are very similar in nature to previous incidents. Incident analysis is an essential form of generating realistic feedback on the quality of an organisation’s barriers. 

Many organisations see this potential and try to capture all incidents, from small process disturbances to larger incidents. Especially for larger organisations, this becomes a challenge as they are presented with large numbers of incidents on a daily basis. Keeping track of all that data can be difficult, analysing it to produce practical recommendations can be even harder.

By mapping barrier performance from an incident on a BowTie assessment allows an organisation to lock learning into corporate memory, and over time as more and more incidents get mapped to the BowTie, an organisation builds up a profile of positive and negative performance of their barriers from their incidents.

By establishing a connection of barrier performance to risk management BowTies, an organisation has a picture of real barrier performance against its proactive risk assessments and can take corrective action to improve performance and ultimately demonstrate that the change has improved performance over time as negative performance turns positive against the problem barrier.


Paul McCulloch is a Risk Management Process Safety & Implementation Consultant at CGE Risk Management Solutions working on the implementation of BowTie risk management programs.

Previously he worked within E.ON Next Generation business as a Process Safety Specialist and was the chief architect of E.ON's award winning Process Safety project using BowTies and BowTie Server from CGE. 

Before joining E.ON, Paul spent four years as a process safety specialist with ABB Engineering Services delivering solutions to their clients in Petrochemical/Oil & Gas/Power and Speciality Chemical industries. Key focus was technical process safety - consequence modelling, ALARP assessment, SIL assessment and Hazard Study leadership.

 Prior to that he worked for fourteen years on a number of petrochemical and speciality chemical production facilities, mainly with ICI or divested ICI businesses in the north east of England.

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