1-4 Acceptable Risk
We cannot eliminate risk entirely. Every chemical process has a certain amount of risk associated with it. At some point in the design stage someone needs to decide if the risks are "acceptable." That is, are the risks greater than the normal day-to-day risks taken by individuals in their nonindustrial environment? Certainly it would require a substantial effort and considerable expense to design a process with a risk comparable to being struck by lightning (see Table 1-4). Is it satisfactory to design a process with a risk comparable to the risk of sitting at home? For a single chemical process in a plant composed of several processes, this risk may be too high because the risks resulting from multiple exposures are additive.7
Engineers must make every effort to minimize risks within the economic constraints of the process. No engineer should ever design a process that he or she knows will result in certain human loss or injury, despite any statistics.