Safety Engineering – a Perspective on Systems Engineering
The thesis of the paper is that safety engineering should be not be considered to be ‘special and different’ but rather should be seen as a specific viewpoint on the more general practice of systems engineering, albeit with the appropriate degree of rigour applied to the processes involved. In recent correspondence with the authors, Dr Nancy Leveson of MIT expressed the opinion, based on her own experience, that: ‘until recently, system safety was always part of the system engineering group. Over time and with ignorance, this interaction has faded.’ The paper uses empirical and analytical evidence to show that common practice – encouraged by process and regulatory standards in some industry sectors – has led to system safety assessments that are based on far too narrow a view that safety is fundamentally about system reliability. The paper shows that good systems engineering practice can help overcome the major deficiencies and provide a much better basis for safety engineering in the future.
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