"SMS" vs "Risk Assessment"

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Return to AS/NZS 2885.6 Pipeline Safety Management


Q: What is the difference between "Risk Assessment" and "Safety Management Study (SMS)"?


(Jeff Jones):

A Safety Management Study (SMS) is a comprehensive and structured process defined in AS2885.6 to examine the threats to a pipeline system relevant to the life-cycle SMS being undertaken. Whereas a Risk Assessment is a key component of the SMS applied when threats are not controlled and require risk evaluation & further treatment (to achieve ALARP). Also refer Part 0 definition for SMS & Risk Assessment.


(Susan Jaques):

Risk assessment is one part of the overall Pipeline Safety Management approach described in AS2885.6.

And as according to AS2885.0 defined terms:

  • Safety management process (paraphrased): identify the threats, control the threats, and if necessary, undertake assessment and treatment of residual risks (i.e., risk assessment, but only where threats are not considered controlled).
  • Safety management study (paraphrased): application of the process on a particular pipeline at a particular time.
  • Facilitated workshop (not 'the SMS') (and not a defined term): review and validation in a group setting of the work done for the (already completed) SMS.
  • Risk assessment (paraphrased): systematic assessment of likelihood and consequences, to AS 31000.


(Peter Tuft):

Risk assessment is a subset of the overall SMS process and is required only when a threat is not controlled but presents some residual risk. In those situations it is necessary to estimate the level of risk and decide whether that risk level can be tolerated or must be reduced.

The term risk assessment was first introduced in the 1997 revision of AS 2885.1. Over the next 10 years the industry and committee gained considerable experience with this new concept. For the 2007 revision of AS 2885.1 the concept was broadened greatly into an overall safety management process via the SMS. The focus of the SMS was more explicitly on controlling each threat to the point where it no longer presents a risk. Hence while risk assessment remains a vital part of the SMS process it is no longer the central element. That principle has remained unchanged since.