What is bowtie method and why this risk assessment tool should be used by any
business involved in the food and drink industry - Visualising HACCP with BowTie barrier risk
management - video part 1. Find out more about out Bowtie services here.
Andrew Collins: “Welcome to our
presentation of the visualisation of HACCP with barrier risk
Management. My name is Andrew Collins from Campden BRI and, I am here with Alistair Cowin
from CGE Risk, who are our partners in developing that approach for the food industry.”
Alistair Cowin: “I am Alistair Cowin, I am
not a food safety engineer, but have a general safety engineer background in aviation. I am very
passionate about barrier risk thinking and I have been supporting Andrew in this journey.”
Collins: “In the food industry, we use HACCP as our risk management tool. Within this
approach, it is about understanding what we do, but also being able to answer three questions. First,
what can go wrong? Second, what systems do we have in place to prevent this from happening? and the
third and most important one, what information do I have which can assure me that the system is working
Campden BRI has been looking at what other industries are successfully
doing in risk management and one of them is the visualisation of HAZOP using a risk management tool
called the Bowtie. I immediately thought that this could be applied in the food industry.
So, throughout our three video talks, we will be looking at barrier risk
management and applying Bowtie in the food industry.
Alistair, why do we start our presentation with a picture of the
statistician George Box?”
Alistair Cowin: “George Box said, “All the
models are false, but some are useful” but also “How wrong the model needs to be, to not be useful?”. I
thought that two quotes were the perfect introduction to the Bowtie model.
Yes, we can’t model everything and, yes, we can’t be extremely detailed,
but with the Bowtie model, we are not trying to create a model of perfection, we just want it to provide
enough to be able to answer the three questions you have just posed.”
Andrew Collins: “That leads us directly to
that quote” (on the video slide)
Alistair Cowin: “Absolutely, the level of
detail depends on the goal, and the goal in the food industry is quite clear, producing safe food. The
model we propose with Bowtie is not about over-simplifying, but it is about bringing all the data that
you have together.
The issue is that these days we are data rich, so people typically start
by trying to answer that third question, what information do we have. The Bowtie provides you a solid
framework for you to hang your data on. It means that if I build the right model, with the right level
of details, I will have the right place to hang on all my data and information and allow me to make a
very clear statement on how well we are performing.
Andrew Collins: “And where does Bowtie
come from? We know that HACCP was developed by NASA in the 60’s to make sure the food was safe for
astronauts, that Codex was developed with Good Hygienic Practises, that Campden BRI has had some
guidance for a number of years, and we also have voluntary standards. All of them to meet the legal
requirements of having a HACCP system in place or HACCP based system. So, what is the history of
Alistair Cowin: “Bowtie first appeared in
the mid-70’s, at The University of Queensland in Australia as an extrapolation of the fault and event
trees. However, the real trigger was the catastrophic incident on the Shell Piper Alpha platform in
1988. Reports concluded that there were too little understanding of the hazards and their accompanying
risks. The urge rose to gain more insight in the causality of seemingly independent events and
conditions by developing a systematic way of assuring control over the hazards. It was the birth of the
Bowtie model and BowtieXP, a CGE product, which has since evolved.”
Andrew Collins: “What spark my interest
about Bowtie was how it helps communicating not only, what the hazard is but, how you can deal with it.
So, Alistair, could you please take us through the diagram and, explain
to us why it looks like a Bowtie?”
Alistair Cowin: “First, I would like to
underline that it does not replace the need for doing the investigation work, the Bowtie is about the
It has a bowtie shape, with the hazard in the middle and an extra
feature, called the top event.
When you manage risks, the key thing is to understand when you lose
control, therefore, the Bowtie diagram is split in two. On the right-hand side, we have in the red boxes
the consequences and, in the blue boxes, on the left-hand side, the threats, those things that will make
me lose control and will have negative repercussions. To prevent those accidents from happening, we put
in place barriers. On the left-hand side, there are the preventive ones, to stop me losing control or,
if we accept that we might lose control; on the right-hand side, there are the recovery barriers. Then,
in yellow boxes on the bottom row of each side, there are the escalation or degradation factors which
cause the barriers to fail. We can also put control barriers against them.
As you can see, it is a very nuanced diagram of preventing the situation
going wrong or recovering it, and a way to understand where to channel the focus.”
Andrew Collins: “We will be looking at the
details of it in our second part video. Let’s talk about one of the promotors of this concept, James
Alistair Cowin: “He came up with the Swiss
cheese slice model. The idea behind it is that none of the barriers are perfect, they all got holes in
them and, if those holes line up, it would give the hazard a straight line through to the business loss.
This concept aligned with the way we build the Bowtie, with the holes
being the escalation factors.
Andrew Collins: “It is also important to
understand what could make the holes in the Swiss Cheese larger, and how we can address them as in the
new Codex, one of revised General Principles of Food Hygiene is about the commitment of management to
establish and, maintain a positive food safety culture.
I mentioned earlier that Campden BRI looks at what other industries
successfully do, so Alistair, where else is the Bowtie model used?”
Alistair Cowin: “I mentioned previously
that it was born out of the oil and gas industry but it’s very popular in the aviation, energy,
chemical, mining, pharmaceutical and so on. It is used in all industries were there is a high hazard
situation but now businesses from any industry are using it to manage risks. Even insurance companies
are using it to understand if their assessments are correct.”
Andrew Collins: “A lot of industries use
risk management tools such as ISO and, here (see slide on video) is an illustration of ISO 31000. It
talks about setting the scope and context which, in the food industry would be HACCP. Its centre box is
about risks identification or risk analysis, in HACCP we would talk about HACCP identification and HACCP
analysis. So, in some respect, the terms used for ISO 31000 and HACCP are synonymous with each other.
ISO 31000 also looks at monitoring, which is Principles 4 of HACCP,
review which is Principles 6, recording which is Principles 7, risk treatment which is part of principle
1 of HACCP. Again, there are a lot of overlaps and common language between different risk management
tools used by different industries.
Alistair Cowin: “And all these models link
to the same thing, managing the risk.”
Andrew Collins: “One of the big strengths
about that model is communication. It is important because you can’t have good culture without effective
communication, and you can’t have effective communication without good culture.
Alistair Cowin: “You can easily overlay
the various elements of the Bowtie into that ISO model. The risk analysis is to identify the hazard
which with the Bowtie model, I can analyse, I can understand where the threats come in and their
consequences and my risk treatments are the barriers.
Bowtie is a visual model, and as we say, “a picture paints a thousand
words”, it is a very powerful in helping to communicate the issues and, the importance of the barriers.
It gives the framework to hang the data to be used for my monitoring and reviews.
Andrew Collins: “And what are its goals?”
Alistair Cowin: “You might already have
the element to analyse the hazard in paper documents, but Bowtie provides the visual structure to
analyse it. Its layout allows you to identify where there are holes, where there are not enough barriers
and where there is shortfall. It helps focus on where you have problems and consequently supports the
decision-making process on where resources should be allocated.
Andrew Collins: “So, it allows you to move
away from the tabulated format which requires a level of competency to pick up the information but also,
not a very good tool to communicate to people who might not have that level of competency. As you said
earlier, a picture paints a thousand words and Bowtie provide the comprehensive view of hazards
Alistair Cowin: “However, you still have
to do the work, you still need to have people who understand the system but, with Bowtie you have the
medium to transmit the information anywhere in the business, from the shop floor all the way through the
board. By understanding and owning things, it gives people ownership and, helps improve the culture of
Andrew Collins: “Thank you very much Alistair. This marks
the end of our first session, and I look forward to seeing you in the part two to look at the Bowtie
model in a lot more detail.