Experience gained from catastrophic events such as Three Mile Island, Challenger, Columbia, and Fukushima has highlighted the critical importance of effective decision making to assess the situation when abnormal conditions are first detected and to formulate an effective response to terminate the event and minimize the consequences. A common thread across these incidents has been the failure to recognize that critical safety barriers have been defeated.

A systematic approach for decision support has been developed using the concept of dynamic barrier management. This approach combines bow tie diagrams from the offshore industry with the success path concept from the nuclear power industry. By combining bow tie diagrams - which provide information about the barriers that can intervene in the progression of an accident, with response trees - which provide information on actions needed to maintain or restore the barriers, a comprehensive, robust approach for dynamic barrier management can be realized.

This paper summarizes lessons learned from major accidents in the nuclear, aerospace, and offshore industries. The dynamic barrier management approach for decision support is described, and experience from offshore drilling and production applications is summarized. Decision support for dynamic barrier management combines effective methods from the nuclear power, aerospace, and offshore industries to form a powerful approach for increasing offshore safety.

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