Posted 08/07/20

The Role of BowTie in SMS

It might be that you just want to use BowTie as a risk analysis tool, that’s fine but bear in mind that it can play a very useful role in many aspects of safety management. You invest time and resources on assessing risk, why not maximize the potential safety benefits by integrating it into your SMS in other areas too?

In the paragraphs below, some suggested roles/functionalities are shown in italics.

The key SMS components

a. Safety Policy and Objectives

  • Safety Accountabilities:
    • Clearly define, communicate and document lines of safety accountability throughout the organisation by linking accountable post holders to controls.

b. Safety Risk Management

  • Hazard identification processes:
    • Provide a Hazard Register platform.
  • Risk assessment and mitigation processes:
    • Provide a proven, logical structure to qualitative risk assessment.
    • Demonstrate that you are managing risk to an acceptable.
    • Provide senior management with an overview of the risk landscape (resource management).
  • Internal safety investigation:
    • Reference to completed risk assessments.
    • Platform for recording investigation findings and actions

c. Safety Assurance

  • Safety performance monitoring, measurement and review:
    • Verify the safety performance of the organisation by validating the effectiveness of safety risk controls: link safety intelligence strategies to the bowties (e.g. linking SPIs to controls and incorporating lessons learned from incidents and accidents).
    • Structure audits based on the safety risk controls identified in bowties.
  • The management of change:
    • Identify and manage how change may affect safety by reference to ‘before and after’ BowTies.

d. Safety Promotion

  • Training and Education:
    • Facilitate discussions and raise awareness with diagrams e.g. prior to commencing a particular type of operation or at scheduled training events.
  • Safety Communication:
    • Facilitate communication, co-operation and co-ordination both internally and with external stakeholders.
    • Ensure understanding of safety responsibilities, convey safety critical information and explain safety actions and procedures.
    • Generate diagrams and/ or text based reports based on the bowtie.

Obviously this isn't a definitive list though and there are many other ways in which to benefit from the use of a barrier based approach to risk management.


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