Risk-management and rule-compliance: Decision-making in hazardous industries

Andrew Hopkins*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    124 Citations (Scopus)


    Risk-management and rule-compliance are inter-related strategies for promoting safety in hazardous industries. They are co-existing and complementary, not contradictory. However risk-management offers very little guidance to end point decision-makers; they need rules to guide their decisions. Accordingly, it is important, even within a risk-management framework that risk-management be translated into rule-compliance for end point decision-makers, where possible. The paper demonstrates that this is what in fact happens for a wide range of operational decision-making.For non-operational decisions, such as investment and design decisions, the need to convert risk-management into rule-compliance is equally important, although more controversial. Nevertheless the authorities have shown that they are willing to impose prescriptive technical rules on duty holders in relation to non-operational decisions, in the interests of safety.These points are illustrated using a variety of empirical examples and materials, most particularly, the BP Texas City accident, the Buncefield accident, and the Australian pipeline standard.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)110-120
    Number of pages11
    JournalSafety Science
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


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