The Two C’s of the Risk-Based Approach to Goal-Based Standards: Challenges and Caveats

Christos A. Kontovas, Harilaos N. Psaraftis, Panos Zachariadis

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


While it is generally accepted that the overall level of maritime safety has improved in recent years, further improvements are still desirable. It is fair to say that much of maritime safety policy worldwide has been developed in the aftermath of serious accidents (such as ‘Exxon Valdez’, ‘Estonia’, ‘Erika’ and ‘Prestige’). Industry circles have questioned the wisdom of such an approach. The safety culture of anticipating hazards rather that waiting for accidents to reveal them has been widely used in other industries such as the nuclear and the aerospace industries. The international shipping industry has begun to move from a reactive to a proactive approach to safety through “Formal Safety Assessment” (FSA) and “GoalBased Standards” (GBS). FSA was introduced by the IMO as “a rational and systematic process for accessing the risk related to maritime safety and the protection of the marine environment and for evaluating the costs and benefits of IMO’s options for reducing these risks”. The recent GBS approach aims to be another proactive instrument, and there has been recent discussion in the IMO on the possible links between FSA and GBS. This paper attempts to clarify some widely used, but confusing to many, notions such as Risk Based Rulemaking vs. Risk Based Design, and IMO's GBS Traditional Approach vs. Safety Level Approach, and the implications of their use, or misuse, to future ship rulemaking, design and safety. The paper elaborates on some identified weaknesses of the risk based approach which must be corrected, with an emphasis on environmental risk evaluation criteria, which is an area in which further research is deemed necessary.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2007
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Symposium on Maritime Safety, Security and Environmental Protection (SSE07) - Athens, Greece
Duration: 20 Sep 200721 Sep 2007


ConferenceInternational Symposium on Maritime Safety, Security and Environmental Protection (SSE07)


  • Formal Safety Assessment
  • Goal Based Standards
  • Risk-Based GBS
  • Safety-Level Approach to GBS
  • Environmental Risk Evaluation Criteria

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