SCSC - Group: Systems Approach to Safety of the Environment

Systems Approach to Safety of the Environment

Welcome to the SASEWG Home Pages

These pages outline the approach of the SCSC Systems Approach to Safety of the Environment Working Group.

Prefer a graphical representation? Why not take a look at the poster from SSS'23!

Further meetings TBD, subject to Doodle Poll.

Please contact if you would like further information.


The idea is to apply Systems Safety practices to systems which are embedded within the natural environment, while focussing on that environment.

Some Differences to 'Traditional' Systems Safety Approach

  • There is likely a longer time frame for harm to materialise
  • Harm may be long-lasting and difficult to assess
  • Systems have potentially wide scope and with more affected parties (for instance pollution in the ocean due to shipping could affect many countries)
  • There can be more interactions and relationships between elements (and stakeholders)
  • Systems may have less well-defined and 'leaky' boundaries
  • There may be many competing demands with commercial, governmental, national, NGO and individual interests
  • There may be an implicit trade-off between benefits (e.g. economic) and losses
  • There are more unknowns and ‘Dark Consequences’, i.e. we don’t know what the effect will be in the future, particularly on human health
  • Cumulative effects can be significant and normal risk assessments don't tend to cover. There can be ‘Ecological Ceilings’.
  • The environmental risk equation is sometimes less based on consequences of harm and more based on business and legal issues
  • Existing methods for environment tend to be more regulation and compliance-based
  • The environment, regulations, or societal expectations may change in unexpected ways affecting existing systems (e.g. rising global temperatures on ice caps or Net Zero on aviation)

Mission Statement

To produce clear guidance on how engineered systems should be developed and managed throughout their entire lifecycle (including through system or environment changes) so as to preserve, protect and enhance the environment.

Statement of the Problem

  • It is acknowledged that systems have been a contributing factor in major environmental accidents to date (Deep Water Horizon, Bhopal, etc). 
  • It is thought that the impact of systems is not currently sufficiently addressed in current environmental safety management practices and standards, which tend to be prescriptive and regulation-based
  • Knock-on effects and emergent behaviours of systems and eco-systems are not currently assessed and managed properly
  • There could be benefit in introducing systems thinking, tools and techniques to specifically manage environmental risks due to systems
  • There are clear business and societal benefits, and wider environmental benefits, in terms of reduced harm, reduced liabilities and improved business efficiencies, in improved management of systems risk related to safety of the environment


9th meeting 19th July 2023, Minutes are available here.

7th meeting 24th May 2023. Slides are available here.

6th meeting XXX. Slides are available here.

5th meeting XXX. Slides are available here.

4th meeting 22nd November 2022. Slides are available here.

3rd meeting 19th October 2022. Slides are available here.

2nd meeting 21st September 2022. Slides are available here.

1st meeting 27th July 2022. Slides are available here.

Kick-Off meeting 17th June 2022. Slides are available here.

Next meeting:

20 October 2023 10:00-11:00 BST via MS Teams:

Please contact if you would like to attend future meetings.


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