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Encouraging inherently safer production in European firms: A report from the field

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Author: Ashford, N.A. · Zwetsloot, G.
Source:Journal of Hazardous Materials, 1-3, 78, 123-144
Identifier: 235722
doi: doi:10.1016/S0304-3894(00)00220-X
Keywords: Workplace · Accident prevention · Environmental management systems · Inherent safety · Pollution prevention · Prevention · Safety management systems · Seveso directive · Technology assessment · Environmental engineering · Occupational risks · Production engineering · Risk assessment · Inherent safety opportunity audit (ISOA) · Inherently safer production (ISP) · Inherently safer technology (IST) · Specific inherently safer options · Technology options analysis (TOA) · Accident prevention · Accident · environmental management · Greece


It is now generally recognized that in order to make significant advances in accident prevention the focus of industrial firms must shift from assessing the risks of existing production and manufacturing systems to discovering technological alternatives, i.e. from the identification of problems to the identification of solutions. Encouraging the industrial firm to perform (1) an inherent safety opportunity audit (ISOA) to identify where inherently safer technology (IST) is needed, and (2) a technology options analysis (TOA) and to identify specific inherently safer options that will advance the adoption of primary prevention strategies that will alter production systems so that there are less inherent safety risks. Experience gained from a methodology to encourage inherently safer production (ISP) in industrial firms in the Netherlands and Greece is discussed. Successful approaches require both technological and managerial changes. Firms must have the willingness, opportunity, and the capability to change. Implications for the EU Seveso, IPPC, and EMAS Directives are also discussed. More effective industrial accident prevention will require a shift from assessing the risks of existing production systems to finding technological alternatives-that is, from identifying problems to identifying solutions. Industrial firms must be encouraged to perform an ″inherent safety opportunity audit″ to find out where inherently safer technology is needed and a ″technology options analysis″ to identify specific inherently safer options. The paper analyzes applications of a methodology for encouraging inherently safer production in Dutch and Greek industrial firms. Results suggest that both technological and managerial changes are necessary for success, and that firms must have the willingness, opportunity, and capability to change. Implications for three European Union Directives are discussed (Seveso II, Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control, and environmental management systems) and recommendations for national and international policy are offered.