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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/C005651/1
Title: Reasoning about risk redistribution in engineering design organisations
Principal Investigator: Busby, Dr J
Other Investigators:
Lauche, Dr K
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
AMEC Atkins Health and Safety Executive
Department: Management Science
Organisation: Lancaster University
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 19 September 2005 Ends: 18 September 2007 Value (£): 93,027
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Design Processes Manufact. Business Strategy
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Energy Transport Systems and Vehicles
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
One of the main problems that has emerged in the development of probabilistic forms of risk analysis is the neglect of redistributive effects. Design decisions, particularly the selection of design concepts, can redistribute risks in a whole variety of ways: between high probability-low consequence hazards and low probability-high consequence hazards, between different social groups, between risks to safety and risks to security - and so on. Such redistributions have important influences on the social perception and acceptability of a technology. The premise behind this proposal is that we currently have only a very limited and piecemeal understanding of how risk redistribution occurs during early, conceptual design processes. We limited understanding of how well people involved in conceptual design reason about redistribution, and how decision support tools might help them. The proposal is also an attempt to link the long tradition of work on the social science of risk perception with the development of technical risk analysis, and represents one of the first proposals to arise from an EPSRC network on risk perception and assessment in design.Our plan is to investigate this problem in the context of two main domains: offshore installations and railways. In both industries there have been recent controversies to do with risk redistribution - in the offshore industry to do with support vessels and unmanned platforms, in the railway industry to do with train protection and the forthcoming European Railway Traffic Management System. The most direct benefit should be to organisations that have to undertake risk assessments, especially assessments of large scale, designed systems in which there are intrinsic hazards. They should benefit both from a better understanding of how capable people naturally tend to be at reasoning about risk redistribution, and from a decision support methods that can make this reasoning more systematic. This should in turn help organisation to be more confident in taking risks, in innovating, and in demonstrating to others parties - such as clients and regulators - that innovations are practicable. One of the main contributions of the work, from an academic standpoint, will be to bring the social science of human risk perception, social risk amplification and cultural risk bias into combination with the technology of risk assessment. In principal, the two disciplines should be strongly influencing each other, but in practice they are associated with quite different research communities and traditions.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.lancs.ac.uk