The Bowtie Diagram is a fantastic tool in the toolbox for understanding, communicating and managing risks. But just how do they help us do this? Here are 5 benefits of a well-constructed Bowtie Diagram:

1. They are a simple and effective communication tool. Bowtie Diagrams can be a straightforward representation of a complex picture, and can be understood by personnel at all levels in an organisation

2. They are a great starting point for ALARP reviews. They show in a simple yet effective format exactly what is in place to prevent and mitigate an incident. The ALARP review team can then ask questions such as “What more can be reasonably be done to prevent an incident?”

3. They are a great tool for workforce engagement. As well as communicating risk, they can bring the workforce onboard by highlighting their key roles in the prevention of an incident. In fact, capitalising on the first-hand knowledge of the workforce may lead to higher quality Bowtie Diagrams. Employees are more likely to take ownership if they are involved with Bowtie development and refinement. Bowties are a great discussion tool, particularly when considering the efficacy of a barrier.

4. They provide a sound basis for training, highlighting the hazards, and demonstrating how particular activities play a role in maintaining barrier integrity. As such they can form a crucial part of safety inductions for new starts, including Senior Managers.

5. They facilitate more focused audit and verification activities. Because they describe escalation factors – the threats to the effectiveness of barriers – the activities required to maintain barrier performance can be easily identified. These can then become the subject of audit and verification activities, giving peace of mind that the right actions are being taken.

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