It might be time to tie a “bow tie” into your COVID-19 risk mitigation procedures.

A bow tie analysis has been used for Process Hazard Analysis for more than 40 years to help organizations get a visual presentation of their potential risk exposure and possible scenarios for that risk. While viruses have always been an operational risk to some degree, the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging people as well as businesses worldwide in ways no one has seen in a century.

The bow tie model was designed to help companies show their workforces the importance of taking the virus seriously. As the Energy Institute and Center for Chemical Process Safety wrote on the American Institute of Chemical Engineers website, “The bow tie methodology illustrates how threats can act on hazards leading to a loss of control, which may result in catastrophic consequences.

The two main threats in this case are “airborne intake of the virus from infected individuals” and “skin contact with infected surfaces.” The prevention barriers include physical separation, personal protective equipment, handwashing and disinfecting surfaces to kill residual viruses. Of course, prevention barriers can break down as people venture to stores or need to travel for work, etc. There are also mitigation barriers, including vaccination (when it’s available), antibody testing (when available) and medical treatment, but those types of treatments are still in development.

“While a bow tie analysis probably won’t tell you anything you don’t already know about mitigating risk from COVID-19 or any other virus,” said Philippe Guillard, Sphera’s vice president of the digital solutions group, “it is a great way to express risk in a visual manner that’s easy for people to process and follow.”

To help companies cope, Sphera has added the COVID-19 bow tie analysis from the Energy Institute and CCPS to the Advanced Risk Assessment for SpheraCloud. To learn more, please contact us or visit our COVID-19 response landing page.

Sphera Research
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