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.

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)
  • 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 significanand risk assessment doesn’t tend to cover. There can be ‘Ecological Ceilings’.
  • 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

Mission Statement (Draft)

To produce clear guidance on how technical systems should be developed and managed throughout their entire lifecycle and beyond so as to preserve, protect and enhance the environment.

Statement of the Problem

  • It is thought that the impact of systems is not currently sufficiently addressed in current environmental safety management practices and standards
  • Knock-on effects and emergent behaviours 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
  • It is acknowledged that systems have been a contributing factor in major accidents to date (Deep Water Horizon, Bhopal, etc). 
  • There are clear business and societal benefits, in terms of reduced harm, reduced liabilities and improved business efficiencies, in improved management of systems risk related to safety of the environment.


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

Next meeting: 3-4pm, 27th July 2022. Please contact if you would like to attend.


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