Introducing Barrier Management in organizations can be a challenging exercise. Where do you start, and what should the end result be? It seems good practice to “think big, start small” or to “begin with the end in mind”. But what does the end result look like..?

To help our partners and clients (from advanced users to bowtie ‘newbees’) see what barrier based risk management looks like, we took the initiative of creating a database with case studies, called the ‘Bowtie Examples Library’. The database is a hosted solution in the cloud, that can be accessed by anyone, anywhere, anytime. The ambition of CGE is that the Bowtie Examples Library will make a valuable contribution to safety and operational excellence by catalyzing the start of the risk assessment process for both existing and new users of BowTieXP. We want to fuel the safety dialogue within industries and across organizations for experienced users.

The risk analyses from the Bowtie Examples Library are aimed to be used as inspiration, not for literal translation. The project is a continuous process; the bowtie Examples Library will keep growing and developing over time, covering more and more risks and topics. You are invited to participate and to make a contribution to the library.

The database consists of about 400 bowties for 11 different industries for a variety of topics and purposes.

Contributing parties

At the start of the project in 2015 we received valuable input from the UK Civil Aviation Authority, Across Safety Development, Centrica Energy, TATA Steel, E.On, Shell and Transocean. As we went along many other organizations made valuable contributions.

The Bowtie Examples Library has three types of examples:

1. Basic Bowties
Bowtie diagrams consisting of Top Event, Hazard, Threats and Consequences to get a head start with bowtie risk analysis and brainstorming.

2. Example Bowties
Basic bowtie diagrams including all the bowtie elements, excluding additional barrier or management system related information.

3. Showcase BowTies
These are full bowtie diagrams including information on effectiveness, barrier type, risk matrices, activities, document links etc. These examples demonstrate how the bowties can be linked to the management system.

Interested Request access to the Bowtie Example Library by filling in the form below.

Getting access to the library is free of charge. However, we have three ‘rules of engagement’:

CGE has a tradition of sharing information with clients, partners, universities, regulators and other influencers. So we invite all clients & partners to join in this project. However, we have three general principles for allowing people access to the BowTie Examples Library:

Access to the BowTie Examples Library is free of charge, if the party involved contributes to the Library

In other words, we believe it is healthy to have some balance when we give people access to the repository. Therefore, the only thing we ask for before granting access is to provide support for the library initiative. This can be done in many ways, for instance by adding example BowTies to the Library. This bolsters the growth and aims of the BowTie Examples Library.

If people cannot contribute to the Joint Industries 2015 by sharing BowTies, they are still invited to participate in the Joint Industries Project 2015. We only request for some sort of contribution in another way: for example by promoting the BowTie Examples Library to fellow colleagues, industry members, etc. This is also fine because we are always eager of people for promoting and sharing risk assessments and safety critical information within and between industries and organizations.

We hope that the BowTie Examples Library will make a valuable contribution to sharing risk critical knowledge and facilitate learning from each other within and between industries and organizations.

The Bowties in the BowTie Examples Library are to be used as a source of inspiration, not for literal translation

A BowTie diagram has to fit with your organization and the intended goal that the organization wanted to reach by doing a BowTie risk assessment. In the preceding phases of the BowTie risk assessment process, the organization has to determine the context. For instance, which problem does the organization want to solve? Which locations or departments will we include? Who is the target audience? Answering questions like these before building the diagram result into crucial decisions on how the BowTie diagram will look like. But these choices for instance also impact what terminology and phrasing will be used in the BowTie. One might consider using more generic terms and group barriers together since the audience is senior management. Or the target audience is, for example, operational personnel, which might want to have a BowTie on another zoom level with more specific information and descriptions.

Abstract topics and Hazard, Top Events, result into more abstract elements. Whereas specific topics and Hazard, Top Events lead to more specific barriers. Senior management might not want to go into a high level of detail that often part of a very specific BowTie, whereas they might be more interested in a more general overview of how the risks are being controlled. The language and topics you use have to fit the organizational needs, context, and purpose. And therefore cannot be literally translated from the BowTie Examples Library. Those objectives will only be met if an organization goes through the BowTie process themselves. It is very important that process of creating BowTies (context establishment, hazard identification, workshops, expert knowledge) is followed, and that this is in line with your risk management processes and organization.

The BowTies in the BowTie Examples Library come from a variety of parties, which had different purposes, goals, scope and audience. As explained above: these factors shape the BowTie diagram, and might not fit with your goal or target audience. This is one of the reasons why the BowTies cannot be used to literally since the organization, context, goals etc. might differ. Moreover, a BowTie has to be a representation of your own organization’s management system, showing everything your organization does to control risks.

At CGE we have a strong view on the application of the BowTie method, which is expressed in our training sessions, workshops and method manual. For instance, what is considered an adequate threat? Or how to formulate hazards, top events, consequences etc. to make the BowTie diagram fit with the purpose of the BowTie. This is done to ensure a good quality BowTie, which aligns with the intended goals and the message you would like to convey to your target audience. In the BowTie Examples Library, not all the BowTie diagrams will follow our view and guiding principles on the BowTie method. So we do not dare to call these “best practices” (or something similar that gives the impression that this would be it), but merely a library of examples that can be used as a source of inspiration. For instance, it can facilitate brainstorming sessions in multidisciplinary groups when an organization starts to perform a risk assessment on a novel major hazard scenario.

The BowTie in the BowTie Examples Library are ideal for getting inspired, for example on how the BowTies can be used and applied. It can facilitate a brainstorming sessions, or fuel a discussion on what zoom level you want to use and how to formulate the elements.

If you use the BowTies from the BowTie Examples Library, you need to be trained in the BowTie method

If you wish to access to the BowTie Examples Library, at least you need to have participated in an online training on the method and the software. Otherwise, it will simply not work for you. If you are not familiar with the underlying thinking, method, and the software, then you will not be able to fully understand the examples – or how these can be applied to your situation or organization. It would be better to organize an in-house training before getting started with the BowTie Examples Library. We can provide this training and (if appreciated) involve one of our local partners. Soon we also have an e-learning module, click here to learn more about the e-learning module.

Request access

Request access to the BowTie Examples Library by filling out the below form.