The Low Probability of Accidental Explosions: Isn't It Worth a Cent in Explosives Safety?
BASLER (ERNST) AND PARTNERS ZURICH (SWITZERLAND)
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In recent years, the problems in complying with well-known safety-distance regulations for ammunition and explosives storages steadily increased in Switzerland. As a reaction, the concept of quantitative risk assessment was developed to guarantee the safety of such storages. This concept allows to take into account both the probability of an explosion and its consequences. It is shown that the safety-distance concept was originally developed as a reaction to the numerous large explosions which occurred around the turn of the century. Since that time the conditions have changed. Today, such explosions are rare events. Therefore, it is proposed to modify the safety-distance concept by introducing the low probability as main guarantor of safety. Necessary steps to promote this change include demonstration that the probability is actually low, investigation into the reasons why it is low, and development of a model to take into account both probabilities and consequences of accidental explosions. The Swiss experiences with such a concept have shown that problems with storage facilities not complying with safety-distance regulations can often be solved efficiently and economically. Author