Probabilistic Safety Assessment

Safety and risk/reliability-related decisions are often made under uncertainties resulting from limited data. To risk-inform decisions under such uncertainties, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) conducts comprehensive studies using probabilistic safety assessment methodologies to assess safety of engineered structures and facilities.

Natural and Manmade Hazard Assessment

As a leader in developing and applying probabilistic methods, geoscientists, engineers, and risk analysts focus on innovations for understanding and quantifying natural hazards (e.g., earthquake, landslides, floods) and manmade hazards (e.g., aircraft crash), and their consequence on infrastructures and facility operations.

Using natural and manmade hazards as initiating events, and equipped with the knowledge of design codes, standards, and regulations, while using a suite of well-known techniques such as What-If and Failure Models and Effects Analyses (FMEA), SwRI risk analysts conduct operational hazard analyses. Engineers evaluate hazard scenarios caused by equipment and system failures, human errors, and external events.

PCSA Tool Software

The PCSA Tool software, developed by SwRI, enables engineers to conduct systematic and comprehensive safety analyses, specifically:

  • Hazard analysis
  • System reliability and uncertainty analyses
  • Event sequence analysis
  • Consequence analysis
  • Estimation of risk to workers and the public
  • Determination of risk significance of structures, systems, and components
image: Institute risk analysts developed and applied the PCSA Tool software to evaluate preclosure safety of proposed operations at a deep geologic repository.

SwRI risk analysts developed and applied the PCSA Tool software to evaluate preclosure safety of proposed operations at a deep geologic repository.

Event Sequence Analysis

Engineers conduct event sequence analysis using fault tree and event tree techniques to:

  • Estimate likelihood of events using historical and new data
  • Conduct dependent failure analysis
  • Account for common cause failure
  • Quantify human error probability
  • Explore the effect of data uncertainty on modeling results
  • Identify through sensitivity studies the most important factors or structures, systems, and components relied upon for safety

Assistance is also offered to clients in simplifying complex probabilistic safety assessments for use in public outreach.

Related Terminology

probabilistic safety assessment  •  natural hazard assessment  •  hazard analysis  •  event sequence analysis  •  consequence analysis  •  failure analysis  •  probability  •  risk analysis  •  sensitivity analyses  •  volcanism  •  earthquake  •  landslide  •  flood  •  tsunami  •  tornado  •  commercial aviation  •  military aviation  •  facility operations  •  natural hazards  •  manmade hazards

Benefiting government, industry and the public through innovative science and technology
Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is a multidisciplinary, independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization with 10 technical divisions.

04/15/14