What is a safety case

A safety case is a document produced by the operator of a facility which:

  • Identifies the hazards and risks

  • Describes how the risks are controlled

  • Describes the safety management system in place to ensure the controls are effectively and consistently applied.  

Safety cases must be produced by the operator of a installation

The principle here is that those who create the risk must manage it. It is the operators' job to assess their processes, procedures and systems to identify and evaluate risks and implement the appropriate controls, because the operator has the greatest in-depth knowledge of their installation.

The safety case must identify the safety critical aspects of the facility, both technical and managerial

Analysis of disasters almost always show a combination of technical and managerial flaws which have led to the event occurring.

Appropriate performance standards must be defined for the operation of the safety critical aspects.

A 'performance standard' is a standard, established by the operator, of the performance required of a system, item of equipment, person or procedure which is used as a basis for managing the risk of a major accident event.

The workforce must be involved

Workforce involvement is necessary so they know what happens in practice and why. This makes it more likely that they do the right thing because they know why, rather than relying on a 'rules-based' culture.

The safety case is produced in the knowledge that it will be scrutinised by a competent and independent regulator

NOPSEMA assesses safety cases and 'accepts' a safety case if it is satisfied that the arrangements set out in the document demonstrate that the risks will be reduced to as low as is reasonably practicable (ALARP). Following this 'accepted' safety case, NOPSEMA will conduct inspections in relation to facilities to monitor the operator's application of the safety cases in practice.