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SeReMo: support in determining Societal risk

When do you issue a licence for the storage or processing of hazardous substances? Is it wise to plan a residential area near a high-risk activity? In such cases of land-use planning, local authorities have to justify the decisions they make. In practice a solid justification of an induced societal risk is quite a challenge. With SeReMo, an instrument developed by TNO, the Safety Regions in the Netherlands can provide more detailed advice.

The Safety Regions are important advisors for the competent authorities when it comes to the justification of societal risk. They advise on risk mitigation and contingency planning measures with respect to major accidents involving dangerous substances, including the self-rescue capabilities in the vicinity of a high-risk facility or transport axis. According to the Council on Dangerous Substances the advice given by the Safety Regions is an important supplement to the mandatory quantitative risk analysis (QRA), which does not take account of the injured persons or people's self-rescue ability, despite the fact that this information is crucial for the emergency services. The Council also noted that there is no reliable method available for quantifying the number of injured persons and the severity of their injuries, nor for assessing the effectiveness of measures designed to support self-rescue ability. Consequently, recommendations made by the Safety Regions often lack a quantitative substantiation.

Calculating societal risk

TNO was commissioned by two ministries (Security & Justice and Infrastructure & Environment) to develop an instrument for performing thorough analyses. TNO researcher Chris Thijssen: 'We were chosen for our extensive knowledge in the field of quantitative risk assessment and consequence modelling. SeReMo (Self Rescue Model) quantifies the effectiveness of measures designed to enhance self-rescue ability in terms of reducing the number of fatalities and injured persons, and in terms of injury type. The instrument provides a solid basis to justify the acceptance of societal risk. SeReMo is based on scientific knowledge relating to injury severity and was developed in consultation with experts in the practical field.'

The Netherlands a safer place

With SeReMo it is possible to:

  • calculate the number of potential victims in the event of an incident involving hazardous substances, differentiated by injury severity
  • translate injury severity into a level of victims' self-rescue ability
  • translate injury severity into a usable measure for emergency services (triage classification)
  • quantify the safety gain of measures designed to enhance self-rescue ability in terms of reducing the number of potential victims and reducing injury severity.

SeReMo has proved its worth in various real-life situations, says Thijssen: 'With SeReMo, the persons responsible at the Safety Regions have greater insight into the consequences of an emergency, and local authorities can provide sound justification for their decisions. In this way we're all helping to make the Netherlands a safer place.'

Ingrid Raben BSc

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Ingrid Raben BSc

  • external safety
  • industrial safety
  • risk analysis
  • QRA
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