Practices in risk assessment and management for industrial systems are characterized by methodical diversity and fragmented approaches. In retrospect these risk and safety paradigms resulted from diverse industries driven and limited by available knowledge and technologies. A change based on industry driven R&D work was needed.
The European Industry recognised their obligation to reconsider their risk and safety policies, having a more competitive industry and more risk informed and innovation accepting society in vision. Therefore, the large collaborative project IRIS was proposed to identify, quantify and mitigate existing and emerging risks to create societal cost-benefits, to increase industrial safety and to reduce impact on human health and environment.
The project was led and driven by the industry to consolidate and generate knowledge and technologies which enable the integration of new safety concepts related to technical, human, organizational and cultural aspects. The partnership represented over 1 million workers. The project related to strategic research topics defined by ETPIS and ECTP and was underpinning relevant EU policies on industrial safety.
New knowledge and technology to enhance industrial safety
European industry is reconsidering risk and safety policies, realising that a change in industry-driven research and development work in risk assessment and management is needed. An EU initiative introduced risk identification and reduction knowledge and technologies to integrate new safety concepts concerning technical, human, organisational and cultural features.
The EU-funded IRIS (Integrated European industrial risk reduction system) project set out to identify, quantify and mitigate existing and emerging risks in order to create societal cost benefits, increase industrial safety, and reduce human health and environment impact.
To achieve its objectives, IRIS focused on the main safety problems of a broad range of domains, including nuclear, chemical, construction, energy production, mining and oil industries. It aimed to transform specific requirements into integrated, knowledge-based safety technologies, standards and services.
Project partners created several innovations that can be applied to all industries. The risk paradigm is a framework for systematic risk identification and risk assessment that prevents or mitigates the diverse risks of various industries. The degradation curve model describes the reliability of new and existing structural systems and associated components during their service life by providing information on the deterioration process. Assessment methodologies cover all aspects of life-cycle analysis for engineering structures.
The IRIS team developed hardware and software for continuous risk assessment in order to monitor online industrial system interactions during their life cycles. As such, it designed decision-support systems to assess collected data, as well as sensors, data management and an IT platform.
Researchers also developed solutions for specific industries. These include tools for worker safety targeting the construction sector, vibration mitigation equipment designed for the chemical industry, a new approach for the mining industry and innovations for the energy sector.
IRIS provided industrial facilities with the necessary tools to improve engineering practices and reduce uncertainties and costs while taking into account human safety.