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Confusion over risk criteria

Author : Carolyn Nicholls, RAS Ltd

25 October 2019

Risk assessments come in all shapes and sizes. They range from the estimation of risk based on experience; through to semi and full quantification. Once the assessment is complete and there is a robust understanding of the risk it should be decided if the risk is tolerable.

If the risk is tolerable the next stage is to satisfy the challenge of demonstrating the risk is ALARP. Those key decisions require operators to be using appropriate risk criteria. There is no one size fits all. Individual risk of fatality is not always the appropriate risk criteria, yet it is the go-to for many carrying out risk analysis. This is possibly because it is a relatively simple criteria, or maybe because it is the criteria that is more easily found within guidance published by the regulator.

There is a general lack of appreciation for the limitations in using Individual Risk Criteria as a measure. Examples include:

1. Risk Calculated in LOPA

2. Representative Scenario Risk

3. Societal Risk

4. Matrices

5. IR for ALARP decisions

There are many challenges due to the lack of clear and simple guidance in this area, which creates difficulty in operators being able to act as intelligent customers.

Carolyn Nicholls

A Director of RAS Limited, Carolyn Nicholls leads a team of risk and hazard management consultants and has been instrumental in creating the company’s assessment methodologies. Carolyn has experience of working with a large number of UK COMAH sites to develop safety reports and provide support in all aspects of risk management.

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