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Should Probabilistic Design Replace Safety Factors?

Should Probabilistic Design Replace Safety Factors? Safety is a concern in almost all branches of engineering. Whereas safety was traditionally introduced by applying safety factors or margins to the calculated maximum load, this approach is increasingly replaced with probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) as a tool for dimensioning safety measures. In this paper, the two approaches are compared in terms of what they aim at and what they can, in fact, achieve. The outcome of this comparison suggests that the two approaches should be seen as complementary rather than mutually exclusive. PRA is particularly useful for priority setting and for the effect evaluation of safety measures; however, in most applications, uncertainties prevent PRA from providing an objective probability of failure or value of damage. Safety factors are indispensible for dealing with dangers that cannot be assigned meaningful probabilities. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philosophy & Technology Springer Journals

Should Probabilistic Design Replace Safety Factors?

Philosophy & Technology , Volume 24 (2) – Sep 28, 2010

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2010 by The Author(s)
Subject
Philosophy; Philosophy of Technology
ISSN
2210-5433
eISSN
2210-5441
DOI
10.1007/s13347-010-0003-6
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Safety is a concern in almost all branches of engineering. Whereas safety was traditionally introduced by applying safety factors or margins to the calculated maximum load, this approach is increasingly replaced with probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) as a tool for dimensioning safety measures. In this paper, the two approaches are compared in terms of what they aim at and what they can, in fact, achieve. The outcome of this comparison suggests that the two approaches should be seen as complementary rather than mutually exclusive. PRA is particularly useful for priority setting and for the effect evaluation of safety measures; however, in most applications, uncertainties prevent PRA from providing an objective probability of failure or value of damage. Safety factors are indispensible for dealing with dangers that cannot be assigned meaningful probabilities.

Journal

Philosophy & TechnologySpringer Journals

Published: Sep 28, 2010

References