ATSE Explainer

Explaining probabilistic risk assessment

A probabilistic risk assessment is an essential means to assess risks to a system based on the severity and likelihood of those risks occurring.

At a time where Australia is threatened by an increasing frequency of floods, fires and natural hazards due to climate change, a probabilistic risk assessment can provide valuable predicative capability for mitigating risks to infrastructure. However, it can also be widely used across technological applications to reveal design, operation, and maintenance flaws, improve safety, cut costs and improve resilience.

Probabilistic assessment uses large data sets to identify, categorise, evaluate, and ultimately mitigate these risks. It demonstrates the consequences of a risk occurring in numerical terms (e.g., the cost of a system failure) and their likelihoods of occurrence as probabilities (i.e., the number of occurrences or the probability of occurrence per unit time).

Ultimately, it provides a more detailed description of variability in risk assessments which leads to better decision making and systems design.