Ask an Expert
Tel: +1-281-673-2800
Find an Office
Email Us
Project Profile

Managing Catastrophic Risk with THESIS BowTie Solution

See how we helped a British multinational automotive and aerospace systems engineering company implement a BowTie Risk Management Software solution for its multiple global sites to reduce workplace safety hazards.

Project Objectives

Project Overview

GKN plc is a UK-based global engineering company, which designs, manufactures and services aerospace and automotive systems and components for original equipment manufacturers around the world. The company operates in nominally low hazard environments, but even these can contain areas with high hazard material which, if not managed, could lead to an increase in potentially catastrophic risks. To mitigate risk and improve safety culture, GKN has implemented an internal workplace safety campaign. The program focuses on behavioral safety issues and has contributed to a reduction in accident frequency rate (lost-time accidents per 1,000 employees per year) from 2.4 in 2011 to 0.98 in 2016. As GKN continues to improve safety performance, the company sought to develop systems that would reduce process safety risks (high hazard, low frequency but with potentially catastrophic consequences). The goal was to help GKN's global sites identify major accident scenarios and the barriers that they have installed to minimize risk. This effort would then empower individuals in the organization to own and manage these risks and so have the personal motivation to proactively and adequately maintain the barriers preventing hazards that could result in catastrophic consequences.

ABS Group was selected as a risk management advisor to assist GKN with implementing bowtie risk assessments across multiple sites by applying ABS Group's proprietary THESIS BowTie Risk Management Software solution.

Client Needs
  • Need for increased cultural emphasis on process safety
  • Reduce complacency regarding process hazards
  • Desire for immediate implementation of bowtie training solution
  • Need to identify risk management software solution to document and demonstrate the results of risk assessments across multiple global sites


Our Solution

To increase awareness of process safety risks throughout the entire global company of 55,000 employees in 30 countries, a robust process safety and risk management solution was developed that included the application of bowtie risk management and training.

ABS Group had the appropriate experience required to assist GKN with its culture change approach. In addition, our Risk Management services offered a BowTie software package that could be tailored to the client's specific needs. A combination of dedicated training courses and BowTie development sessions was developed and supported using THESIS Enterprise, which resides on a central server with internet access to all of GKN's global operating sites.

Customize Fit-for-purpose Training Course

To address the need for a custom training course, our risk management engineers modified ABS Group's standard Risk Assessment Using BowTies training course to make it fit-for-purpose to meet GKN's needs while also integrating it within the company's existing Enterprise Risk Management process. We delivered the course in dedicated 3-day training sessions held in the U.S., Europe and Asia Pacific regions. The first part of the course covered topics such as Safety Culture, Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment and Process Safety Management. The second part covered a straightforward introduction to the THESIS BowTie Risk Management software. Attendees of training sessions were largely the regional and plant safety focal points.

Facilitate Bowtie Development Sessions

These sessions were held on different GKN sites, often as follow-on sessions to the training course. The aim of the sessions was to assist site managers with developing bowtie assessments for some of the hazards present on site. The audience for the bowtie development and facilitation sessions consisted of the operators who might be injured, together with maintenance and the site safety people (the focal points responsible for maintaining the bowties), if the management of these hazards fails and a major accident occurs.

ABS Group developed a proven and effective approach by providing a short session introducing the bowtie concept as well as a field visit to observe the equipment containing the hazard and the barriers that manage it. We then returned to the meeting room, developed an initial bowtie on paper and, when these became too detailed, transitioned the design of the bowtie into the software that a scribe had drawn in parallel to the paper version. We further developed the barrier degradation factors and the safeguards to prevent these factors from degrading barrier functionality and effectiveness in the software application THESIS Enterprise, which remains as the permanent documentation of the work performed.

We followed this approach on GKN sites based in the U.S., the Netherlands, UK, Romania , Sweden, India and China.

Value Delivered

New Build Risk Assessment

ABS Group's THESIS BowTie Risk Management Software solution introduced the Company to a new way of looking at the relationship between hazard and risk. Typically, the manufacturing engineering discipline focuses on the day-to-day safety issues and rarely on the likelihood of a catastrophic event. GKN recognized that this might be a possibility given the nature of some of its asset-intensive businesses, and thus began managing this risk more proactively at some of its high-risk sites using bowtie assessments to monitor the potential for major accidents.

Our solution enabled the client to raise awareness within the organization as to how hazards can become potentially catastrophic risks and how to assess whether the controls in place provided adequate protection. Additionally, we helped the client identify opportunities to improve/mitigate such risks and educated each level of the organization so teams can continue to evaluate risk effectively across the company's global sites. GKN has embedded the bowtie way of thinking using our training resources for more than 200 employees who are now addressing hazards using the Bowtie method to evaluate whether these hazards are controlled and/or mitigated.

"This is only a start; we will do more. We have a good base, and we will dig deeper, look harder and reduce the risk." – Martin Smith, Director of Health, Safety and Environment at GKN

Contact our team for more information on our Bowtie Risk Management Software.

Back to top