Advanced barrier Management

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Before we can talk about 'advanced barrier management', we first need to specify what 'barrier based risk management' is:

Barrier based risk management is all about your primary business processes; to know what your critical controls are (the ‘barriers’) and what the status of these barriers is, and then to understand how to manage the barriers. Advanced barrier management is aimed to monitor the status of these barriers on a daily basis. The bowtie method is used as a means to get this 'picture', and as a structure to monitor the status of the barriers.

Development of Barrier Based Risk Management

The bowtie method was first used in the oil & gas industry, and later in other industries such as maritime, aviation, mining, chemicals, etc. The initial application of bowties was to create a visual risk assessment, often in the context of a 'safety case' (license to operate). Barrier management is built on top of this and uses the data from HSE and 'operations' to monitor the status. The next step is to use this model to monitor how you are doing from an operational point of view. After all, in essence, quality, risk management and operational excellence are the same.

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How does Advanced Barrier Management work?

Identifying what control measures a company has in place can be an illuminating experience. But once those barriers have been identified, how can you know that the controls are actually performing well? The process of going from having identified the controls, to assessing the performance based on actual data, is a project we have called 'advanced barrier management'.

It is advanced in two ways: 1) Companies need to have an excellent understanding of what their controls are and have them identified with sufficient confidence in a risk assessment such as bowtie. 2) Performance is tested using a range of different data sources such as incidents, audits and maintenance systems. Those data need to be aggregated. So it is advanced in the sense of both data collection and analysis.

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The pay-off is tremendous:

  • Risk assessments come to life. Instead of being forgotten and archived, risk assessments are actually used because they are relevant in day-to-day operations.
  • The aggregation of various data sources allows a level of understanding and insight into risks, which is unprecedented in risk management until now.

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