ABS Consulting

Bow-tie diagrams: Increasing benefits in the risk management process

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Bow-tie diagrams are a pictorial display of the relationship between the various components that result from what is commonly termed the Hazard and Effects Management Process. The diagrams depict the relationship between hazards, threats, barriers, escalation factors, consequences and controls in the form of a qualitative risk assessment. With their roots well established within the traditional high hazard oil, gas and petrochemical industries, the concept is increasingly being adopted by other business sectors, including transportation, finance, commercial and medicine. In fact, any industry — or process that is exposed to risk — can benefit from this simplistic yet very powerful representation of a business management system.

A management system is a structured and documented process for managing risks within a company, to assure the protection of people, the company’s assets and the business reputation, and for the protection of the environment the company operates within. A company management system will often follow a common structure, starting with the business principles, followed by the progressive and continuous development of risk identification and subsequent mitigation. The manner and means by which a risk is controlled are delivered through people and procedures, which are also identified.

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