Major Accident Hazards (Public Nuisance)

In the world of technical safety, there is a term called Major Accident Hazard / Event (MAH / Event). It can be described as a hazard or event that cause a major accident (duh),which as defined by the UK HSE as:

  1. a fire, explosion or the release of a dangerous substance involving death or serious personal injury to persons on the installation or engaged in an activity on or in connection with it;
  2. any event involving major damage to the structure of the installation or plant affixed thereto or any loss in the stability of the installation;
  3. the collision of a helicopter with the installation;
  4. the failure of life support systems for diving operations in connection with the installation, the detachment of a diving bell used for such operations or the trapping of a diver in a diving bell or other subsea chamber used for such operations; or
  5. any other event arising from a work activity involving death or serious personal injury to five or more persons on the installation or engaged in an activity in connection with it;

As elaborated by a National Oil Company:

A Major Accident Hazard is typically a low probability, high consequence event, which requires a different approach to the occupational safety management processes.

In Malaysia, I this would also be covered under CIMAH, Control of Industrial Major Accident Hazards.

I suggest a new category be put into place to cover Major Accident Hazards to public utilities, for example pollution and loss of water resources. The definition can follow that for MAH, paperwork can be as onerous (call me for help), penalties can be as sever, upto summary execution without due process (yes, I moved into sarcasm territory). I call dibs on MAH(PN).

Please note that, no matter how much you want to, one bad taxi driver cannot be a MAH(PN). I think that suggesting a taxi driver causing major damage to an institutional structure (tourism, national goodwill, etc) is too extreme, even for me.

To eliminate the cause of the MAH, or minimise the effects of the MAH, barriers are put into place (Safety Critical Elements) with a minimum expectation of performance (Performance Standard). For example, if the consequence of the MAH in question is strong BO, the SCE is use of deodorant (or seclusion from the public), with a PS criteria of daily use (or permanent exile).

Bow tie diagram taken from Highly Reliable Performance Blog published by the DOE Office of Corporate Safety Analysis (HS-30)



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