Implementing Bowtie into Safety Management Systems (SMS)

How to develop a bowtie risk model

Adopting the bowtie methodology does not mean re-inventing Safety Management Systems (SMS); it is simply a tool that can be used to fulfil certain SMS goals in an appropriate, efficient and consistent way. 

The two main deliverables of the bowtie methodology are risk assessment and risk communication but it can also be applied to benefit other aspects of the SMS.

Safety Policy and Objectives

Safety Accountabilities

  • Clearly define, communicate and document lines of safety accountability throughout the organisation by linking accountable post holders to controls.

Safety Risk Management

Risk assessment and mitigation

  • Provide a proven, logical structure to qualitative risk assessment.
  • Demonstrate that you are managing risk to an acceptable level.
  • Provide senior management with an overview of the risk landscape to facilitate good risk management practices.

Safety Assurance

Safety performance monitoring, measurement and review

  • Verify the safety performance of the organisation by validating the effectiveness of safety risk controls: link safety intelligence strategies to the bowties
    (e.g. linking Safety Performance Indicators (SPIs) to controls and incorporating lessons learned from incidents and accidents).

  • Structure audits based on the safety risk controls identified in bowties.

The management of change

  • Identify and manage how change may affect safety by reference to ‘before and after’ bowties.

Safety Promotion

Training and Education

  • Facilitate discussions and raise awareness with diagrams e.g. before beginning a particular type of operation or at scheduled training events.

Safety Communication

  • Facilitate communication, co-operation and co-ordination both internally and with external stakeholders.
  • Ensure understanding of safety responsibilities, convey safety critical information and explain safety actions and procedures.
  • Generate diagrams and/ or text based reports based on the bowtie.