Analyzing Risk

by Robin K. McGuire, (F.ASCE), President; Risk Engineering, Golden, CO,
Gabriel R. Toro, (M.ASCE), Sr. Engr.; Risk Engineering, Golden, CO,
Robert T. Sewell, (M.ASCE), Sr. Engr.; Risk Engineering, Golden, CO,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1991, Vol. 61, Issue 12, Pg. 66-68

Document Type: Feature article


Engineers designing major projects must often grapple with large areas of uncertainty—from estimating the seismic hazard to a nuclear powerplant to the potential effects of decades of ocean currents on offshore structures. One possible source of help is risk analysis, which is being applied in a growing number of important projects, including nuclear powerplants and waste repositories, offshore oil platforms, and other engineered facilities exposed to natural hazards. Risk analysis in civil engineering quantifies what potential failures may occur in a facility and how probable they are over the facility's lifetime. It can help make engineering decisions on levels of design, retrofit, necessary site investigations or insurance for a facility that cannot be retrofit. Risk analysis does not replace engineering judgment; in fact, one of its purposes is to document the basis for engineering judgment.

Subject Headings: Risk management | Offshore platforms | Power plants | Failure analysis | Rehabilitation | Site investigation | Seismic design | Uncertainty principles

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