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Risk assessment is an integral part of accident prevention. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Seminar on Risk Assessment Methodologies, held in December 2018, sought to support UNECE countries in implementing the relevant Convention provisions by providing an opportunity to exchange information and share experiences applying risk assessment methodology. Notable conclusions reached during the seminar included challenges executing transboundary risk assessment and the need for more information exchange on risk assessment methodology used in the UNECE region, including available software tools. Accordingly, this project was prioritized among recommendations from the seminar.

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The Problem

Chemical facility risk assessments can vary dramatically in detail and approach for many reasons, including the nature of the process, technical expertise among the risk assessment team, cultural norms, industry regulations, stakeholder involvement and availability of data necessary for certain methods. Because of this variability, it has proved challenging to understand and communicate the specific risks that a chemical installation may pose to the public (including individual, societal and environmental risks), especially in situations where a chemical facility may be located near country borders and have transboundary impacts.

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The Solution

Based on our wide-ranging experience conducting risk assessments at a variety of chemical installations, Jensen Hughes was selected to develop an independent review of available risk assessment methods and analysis of how these methods have been applied in the UNECE region. Our analysis provided a harmonized glossary of risk terminology, a thorough overview of the risk management process, and a focused review of risk assessment methods available and applied in the chemical industries. A companion report summarized a selection of case studies submitted by UNECE member countries, analyzed similarities and differences, and evaluated a selection of commercially available software tools, which support various aspects of chemical installation risk assessment.

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The Results

Our reports were prepared as official background documents to be presented at the twelfth meeting of the UNECE’s Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents Conference of the Parties, in furtherance of its overall goal of helping member Parties reduce the impact of industrial accidents. The Convention aims to help its Parties prevent, prepare for, and respond to industrial accidents, especially those that can have transboundary effects, and fosters transboundary cooperation in industrial accident prevention, preparedness, and response.

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