What Is A What-If Analysis?

A What-if analysis is a brainstorming activity that can be used to determine things that can go wrong in center scenarios. After determining what could negatively happen, the consequences are then judged thereafter. A What-if analysis can be used for any type of potential disaster. For the sake of this article, we will discuss how this analysis can be applied to a fire safety plan.

Based off of the answers that are obtained from what-if styled questions, informed judgments can then be made concerning the risks associated with moving forward with a particular activity. Any risks that have been deemed acceptable can have a course of action outlined about ways to avoid the potential disaster from occurring. When it comes to fire safety, it is vital to remember that prevention is key.

Steps To Conducting A What-If Analysis

When conducting a what-if analysis, the first thing that needs to take place is a leader must be selected. Once a leader is selected, they will then be responsible for walking their team through the steps of the analysis. The leader should utilize detailed diagrams and operating guidelines that the rest of the team can keep with them. Guidelines that determine what the acceptable safety levels are is important to hand out also.

Once the leader is assigned, it is time to get down to business. The team should then begin generating various what-if questions for the subject at hand, in this case, fire safety. When developing what-if questions, that will then need to be tested to determine if they are realistic or not, there are a few things to consider.

· Human error- Human error is the first thing to think about what conducting a what-if analysis. Many hazardous situations occur from a simple human mistake. Make some of your questions centered on this point.

· Equipment failure- Equipment failure is another reason that a fire could break out. Consider the different types of equipment that is used in your facility when conducting a what-if analysis.

· Deviations from expected parameters- Any deviation from a critical parameter can make the difference between a fire starting and its prevention.

Assess And Evaluate All Potential Risks

Once all what-if questions have been generated by the team, the next step is to review them. The team needs to gather all of the questions and determine if there are any likely error sources. They should then decide at this point, what the probability of each error occurring is. After the probability has been determined, then the consequences need to be accessed also. The consequences of something hazardous happening, make it extremely important to perform one of these analyses.

Develop Solutions and Recommendations

Different steps need to be taken if a risk is deemed to be acceptable or unacceptable. While conducting your analysis, if the risk is considered to be unacceptable by the team, then there will need to be a corrective action performed. At this point all recommendations are recorded.

If the risk is deemed to be acceptable, but the probability is low and the consequences are not anything life threatening, the team may choose to mark this scenario as a no recommendation response. Remember that time is valuable when it comes to a hazardous situation, such as a fire. Therefore, if the steps to correct the problem will involve a lot of time and costs, this is usually deemed as an unacceptable method to rectify the issue.

Summarize and Prioritize The What-if Analysis

After developing recommendations for the what-if questions that are deemed acceptable, the next step is to summarize and prioritize the information that has been gathered. The summary needs to be prioritized based on the probability of the what-if analysis actually occurring. For example, a fire starting because of an oven exploding would be prioritized above a fire starting because of a piece of paper being lit on fire by a lighter. The oven blaze would spread quicker… causing a bigger hazard then the other scenario.

Assign A Call To Action

Assigning a call to action is the final step in conducting a what-if analysis. At this point, all probable scenarios should have a solution to them if they were occur. To assign a call of action to help prevent these issues from occurring, you may want to consider adding an additional column to your current what-if analysis that you have put together. Indicate a person or a group of people that are going to be assigned to ensure that corrective actions are taken so a fire hazard does not occur.

The Benefits of Using A What-If Analysis

Protecting the building that you operate and the people who reside in it is important. What-if analyses allow you to look at things from another perspective and take the appropriate steps to safeguard your facility if an adverse event were to occur. This type of analysis is easy to use, and there are no specialized tools required to do so.

To engage in creating a what-if analysis, you do not have to have experience with doing hazard analyses. This makes this form of analyzing attractive. Anyone can be involved in a team performing this type of analysis and understand how to be insightful. Doing one of these types of analyses makes people think outside the box and consider various scenarios that could occur, yet, we hardly consider until they do happen.

Are There Limitations To The What-If Analysis?

Any form of analysis has its limitations. This type of form of analyzing hazards is only useful when the right types of questions are asked. The success of creating an impactful what-if analysis is going to rely solely on the input of the team members that are involved in the task. That is why it is important to set down with a team of sophisticated individuals to develop this type of list.

Original Post