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Safety Management System: a System Dynamics Approach to Manage Risks in a Process Plant

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The increasing number of accidents caused by the complexity growth of socio-technical systems, the new interactions established among man, machine and environment and the lack of perception of the importance of a continually improved safety culture, have shown the limitations of the traditional Risk Management approach, as it is usually perceived and applied: Risk Management is the set of the processes aimed to identify, assess and group the risks by their priorities. It also includes an economic and coordinated use of resources which, on one hand, seeks to minimize and control the frequency and/or the impact of undesirable events and, on the other hand, to manage the opportunities realization. The continuous evolution of the variables, which characterize the identification, the assessment, the planning and the implementation of corrective measures and control processes, such as the recognition of new risk factors that leads to update their acceptability level, contrasts with their static nature. Therefore, in order to improve the efficiency and the effectiveness of the whole management process, it is necessary, first of all, to adopt a methodology which could solve the previously introduced issues, extending the classical and reactive approach by proposing a new Risk Management vision. It is needed a cyclic structure which could keep the system state under control at any time, by means of tools able to update the evaluation process, if the analyzed factors vary. The final goal is to create a simulation behavioral model of the system that makes it possible to identify the complex network of causal factors that triggers an accidental event with its different scenarios and, consequently, to understand which leverage points can be activated in advance to prevent it: only by means of a full knowledge of the system, it is possible to achieve an effective management of its risk level.
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Risk Management; System Dynamics; Process Plant; Complex Systems; Causal Loop Diagram

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