The System Safety discipline is defined as the application of special technical and managerial skills to the systematic, forward-looking identification and control of hazards throughout the life cycle of a project, program, or activity. The primary objective of System Safety is accident prevention. Proactively identifying, assessing, and eliminating or controlling safety-related hazards, to acceptable levels can achieve accident prevention. A hazard is a condition, event, or circumstance that could lead to or contribute to an unplanned or undesired event. Risk is an expression of the impact of an undesired event in terms of event severity and event likelihood. Throughout this process, hazards are identified, risks analyzed, assessed, prioritized, and results documented for decision-making. The continuous loop process provides for validation of decisions and evaluation for desired results and/or the need for further action.
The System Safety process steps are depicted graphically in the following figure. It is a formal and flexible process that generally follows the steps in the FAA's Safety Risk Management Order, 8040.4. A systematic approach to process improvement requires proactively searching for opportunities to improve the process at every step, not simply identifying deficiencies after an undesired event. Risk Management has been defined as the process by which Risk Assessment results are integrated with political, social, economic, and engineering considerations for decisions about need/methods for risk reduction.
Example Risk Assessment Matrix
|Severity Scale Definitions|
|Catastrophic||Results in fatalities and/or loss of the system.|
|Critical||Severe injury and/or major system damage.|
|Marginal||Minor injury and/or minor system damage.|
|Negligible||Less than minor injury and/or less than minor system damage.|
|Likelihood Scale Definitions|
|Frequent||Individual||Likely to occur often.|
|Probable||Individual||Will occur several times.|
|Fleet||Will occur often.|
|Occasional||Individual||Likely to occur some time.|
|Fleet||Will occur several times.|
|Remote||Individual||Unlikely to occur, but possible.|
|Fleet||Unlikely but can reasonably be expected to occur.|
|Improbable||Individual||So unlikely, it can be assumed it will not occur.|
|Fleet||Unlikely to occur, but possible.|
Source: FAA Office of System Safety
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