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    How To Use the Bowtie Method To Manage Risk and Prioritize Actions

    20 March 2024 - Evotix


    Balancing different, often conflicting risks poses a challenge for many businesses. And when a significant event disrupts normal business operations, the temptation can be to focus all attention and resources on risks associated with that event. The danger is that other, pre-existing risks get sidelined or ignored. Avoiding one risk might inadvertently expose another.

    Workplaces must be managed holistically, both to keep workers safe and ensure the continued resilience of the business.

    This is where the bowtie analysis can help. It gives a broader perspective, allowing you oversight across the entirety of the business. This lets you prioritize actions with the full knowledge that you have a comprehensive grasp of the situation.

    A structured way to visualize risk

    The bowtie analysis method illustrates how something bad might happen (the hazard) and what could cause it (on the left side), as well as what might happen as a result (on the right side). It's connecting the dots between what could go wrong and why, and what might happen because of it. This structured visual representation breaks risks down into a series of threats and controls. It allows organizations to see the risks that already exist within their business and respond accordingly, but also to be proactive and plan preventative measures.

    For example, the following simplified bowtie for ‘Falls from Height’ shows how existing controls can be conflicting.

    Bowtie_fall from height

    The bowtie risk methodology can help:

    • Sharpen focus on risk management (particularly critical controls).

    • Identify unintended consequences where controls potentially conflict with each other.

    • Offer objective perspectives to help with prioritizing actions and preventing blind spots.

    • Engage workers in risk management discussions and help demonstrate the full reality of implementing controls.

    The bowtie method can make sure you don’t lose perspective in the event of a significant, unexpected disruption to your business. Helping you understand the entirety of the situation, it allows you to assess the full impact of any actions you take. This tool will inform your decisions and help you implement the right EHS controls for the benefit of the entire business.

    To learn more about how the bowtie diagram can help you, check out our Risk Analysis and Control Management page on our website! 

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