Keywords: risk analysis, risk assessment, credibility, regulation, norms, safety assessment, maritime industry
Credibility in risk assessment: a normative approach
The methodology of risk assessment has been heavily criticised for a number of years, but its importance as a normative practice is, if anything, increasing in a society that is sceptical of special interests and expert bodies. This implies that it is becoming increasingly important to be normative about how risk assessment is conducted. The purpose of this paper is to describe a study aimed at developing a set of norms for risk assessment and thereby providing a systematic way of testing the credibility of a given assessment. These norms were grouped into a taxonomy and fell into two main categories: norms that tested the appropriateness of an assessment given the object system to which it was being applied, and norms that tested appropriateness in terms of the social system that it was intended to serve. The proposal is that the framework should be applied formatively, not summatively, and should contribute to: reflection on the part of risk assessors themselves, reviews of risk assessments by stakeholders, particularly regulatory bodies and the processes by which organisations, such as regulators, specify what they require from risk assessments.