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A Bowtie Risk Model for COVID-19

Authors: Mark Manton (ABS Group), Martin Johnson (BP), Rob Miles (Hu-tech), Mark Scanlon, (Energy Institute) and Charles Cowley (Center for Chemical Process Safety) 

COVID-19 BowTie

How Process Safety Management Relates to COVID-19

Social distancing, wash your hands, don't touch your face.

These are common sense and simple solutions for an individual to avoid getting the coronavirus. Decision making gets significantly harder when viewed from a business or organization's operational processes. In this case, it is important to systematically assess risk and potential consequences. That is the basis for process safety management (PSM). A small team of committee members who worked on the publication Bow Ties in Risk Management, published by the Energy Institute and American Institute of Chemical Engineers' Center for Chemical Process Safety, have developed a bowtie example of how this systematic analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic makes clear the role of an individual and the consequences of individual actions. 

Bowties for Risk Management

COVID-19 is sweeping the globe and there is a lot of guidance on what we should be doing. But it is not always obvious why specific guidance has been introduced and what it hopes to achieve. The bowtie team has produced a visual aid in the shape of a bowtie to demonstrate our role in the pandemic.

The Bowtie Methodology illustrates how threats can act on hazards leading to a loss of control, which may result in catastrophic consequences.

In the bowtie diagram, prevention barriers are located on the left side and mitigation barriers are located on the right side. A well-drawn bowtie clearly shows all barriers that can prevent the top event, the loss of control, from occurring or mitigate the consequences.

COVID-19 BowTie
Figure 1: Bowtie for COVID-19 (as per CCPS/EI guidance)

Figure 1 shows two threats leading to the transfer or contracting of COVID-19: via the air into your lungs or through your skin from touching a surface with the virus already on it. There are three possible serious consequences: your death, the death of someone you infect and protracted lockdown. In the middle of the bowtie is the Top Event, the point at which things start to go wrong when you become infected. To stop this from happening, the team has mapped prevention barriers and mitigation barries using the bowtie method. To see the complete bowtie with all barriers shown, view this document published by the Energy Insitute and CCPS.

COVID-19 BowTie


Process Safety and Risk Management Guidance

From simple to complex situations, ABS Group has experience assisting organizations in mapping risk, building a risk management framework and mitigating risk to secure operations using data-driven technologies.

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