This paper, describes shortcomings of prescriptive regimes and the emergence of and progressive internationalisation of what is variously described as a goal setting or risk-based approach. Specifically the adoption of the "safety case regime" and how it can be used to improve standards of safety and used as a decision support tool is described.

The introduction of a "safety case regime" has taken the industry several years to fully appreciate and effectively apply it as a tool for improving standards of safety. The development of a safety case can provide essential insight into the risks facing an installation and the controls required to manage them. How this information is then used most effectively in operations is still an area for improvement; however there are some key approaches that can provide valuable insight and information to operators on a day to day basis.

Historically, most regulatory safety regimes have prescribed rules and standards that must be achieved, with varying degrees of enforcement. The limitations of this approach have been demonstrated in subsequent major accidents following which it was shown that the law was being complied with. A typical response to such incidents was to amend the regulations; often resulting in unnecessary additional costs, and a detailed focus on compliance, rather than understanding the risks associated with an individual facility and how it is operated. The safety case regime was born out the recognition that such mandated regimes were not effective in preventing major accidents.

The use of Bowties as an operational risk based decision support tool is considered with both the benefits and potential pitfalls of this approach being described. This paper builds on extensive experience gained in the North Sea and an approach being developed for use offshore Ghana.

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