DNV-GL white paper on uncertainty in risk assessment

How to counter the perception that addressing uncertainty creates uncertainty.

A white paper from DNV GL investigates uncertainty in risk assessment. The 24 page document by Andreas Hafver et al. builds on research from the University of Stavanger. Regulators increasingly require uncertainty in risk assessment to be addressed as a prerequisite for improving safety. This brings a challenge in that addressing uncertainty may be perceived as creating uncertainty. For some, it is not clear how more focus on uncertainty adds value to decision-making.

The paper shows that uncertainty is an integral part of risk. Assessing and communicating uncertainty can help operators take safety-critical decisions with more confidence by understanding which uncertainties are important and if they can be reduced without compromising safety.

A picture that includes all uncertainties may overload the decision-maker and blur important messages. However, if uncertainties and their influence are understood, analysts can sharpen their message around those that matter. DNV advocates an iterative, top-down approach to risk assessment that is designed to minimize the assessor’s own bias and preferences.

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