Risk and Safety in Engineering
Research and Teaching in the Group on Risk and Safety at ETH Zurich
Focus of the Work of the Group (PDF)
group on risk and safety in civil engineering at the Swiss Federal
Institute of Technology in Zürich, Switzerland (ETHZ) was initiated in
April, 2000. The research mission for the group is to develop new
theories, techniques and procedures for the enhancement of decision
making in the area of civil engineering with the perspective of
improving the quality of life for the individuals of society. Main
focus areas include applied decision theory, risk management, risk
assessment, life-cycle costing, structural reliability theory together
with probabilistic and statistical modelling and assessments.
Fundamental research is ongoing in the areas of sustainability, risk
perception, risk aversion and risk acceptance criteria.
group is leading and participating in several activities related to
management of risks due to natural hazards as well as hazards in a
broader context. In the following a selection of these projects are
shortly outlined together with other relevant activities in the context
of risk management.
- Economic optimization of fire safety measures
Costs of fire safety measures have to be balanced with the benefits they provide. For measures required by fire safety codes, this optimization needs to be done on a portfolio basis. The aim of the project is to evaluate the efficiency of different measures as a basis for future code revisions.
- Excel-based tool for the risk analysis of rockfall protection galleries
In this project a user-oriented Excel©-based tool to assess the risk due to rockfalls on rockfall protection galleries is developed. Generic Bayesian-Networks will be used. They facilitate the direct consideration of all available sites- and object specific information of the rock-fall hazard.
- Probabilistic Analysis of Large-scale Engineered Systems using GIS
The project strives to push the presently ongoing research in probabilistic analysis of large systems further, with consideration of two interrelated problems; life cycle risk management of individual but large structures and risk management of geographically distributed engineered systems.
- Monitoring based assessment of Offshore Wind Energy Converters
For the online assessment of Offshore Wind Energy Converters classical and structural reliability methods as well as Bayesian networks are integrally applied. The project aims at condition information and decision support for inspection and maintenance planning
- Uniform Risk Assessment in the Swiss Road Network
The aim of this research project is to develop a decision framework and a methodology to identify the appropriate and efficient use of limited resources in the society, in regard to the achievement of an acceptable level of safety for the highway network in Switzerland.
- Traffic Safety on the Swiss Road Network
The aim of this project is to develop a method for the assessment of direct and indirect consequences of different adverse events on the road network. The envisaged method should be based on recent scientific developments in the field of risk based decision making.
- Spatial Variability of Concrete Properties within a Building Component
The aim is to provide a tool for the assessment of the spatial variability of concrete characteristics in structures and/or elements. Furthermore the areas of strong correlation are to be used in order to propose a size for the mess arrangement so that it can be used in future investigations.
Further Projects and Activities
ongoing research project the group on risk and safety in civil
engineering is also active in pre-normative and normative work in the
area of risk assessment, risk management and decision making.
- The Joint Committee on Structural Safety (JCSS)
The JCSS is an international pre-normative committee especially concerned with the development of basic knowledge in the area of structural reliability theory and risk assessment in civil engineering. The aim of the committee is to provide basis and guidance for code committees in the area of structural and civil engineering.
- The International Forum on Engineering Decision Making (IFED)
IFED is a five member consortium consisting of Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH, Zurich, Switzerland, University of Calgary, Canada, University of Newcastle, Australia, University of Tokyo, Japan, University of Sydney, Australia.
The mission statement of IFED is to explore critical issues, to share exciting developments, and to stimulate new initiatives in engineering decision making and risk analysis for engineering systems, by organizing on a regular basis open international forums that focus on specific themes providing a widely accessible publication of the contributions and of the conclusions of such forums.
- ETH Post Tsunami Initiative
The ETH post tsunami initiative is an ETH initiated project lead by the group of risk and safety in civil engineering with the purpose of enhancing the management of risks due to natural hazards in the region of South-east Asia. The project is being conducted in close collaboration with the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC) both located in Thailand but also includes several participants from other countries in the region. A special focus in the project is to provide generically applicable methodologies and tools for the efficient use of limited resources in the quest of management of natural hazards. Key elements in the project concern the interrelation between sustainable land use, hazard exposure, vulnerability of societal infrastructure and societal robustness.
- COST C26: Risk Assessment for Catastrophic Scenarios in Urban Areas
This project is part of the COST Action C26 entitled “Urban Habitat Constructions under Catastrophic Events”. It aims to evolve and establish a common framework for risk assessment based on the current best knowledge in the field. A critical review of existing frameworks would be carried out first followed by the selection of a suitable and consistent methodology. A detailed case study involving a scenario characterized by different kinds of risk arising from different types of exposures would then be carried out.
- "SAFERELNET" Thematic Network
The SAFERELNET Thematic Network is concerned with providing safe and cost-effective solutions for industrial products, systems, facilities and structures across different industrial sectors.
- Natural Hazards in an Alpine Valley
An interdisciplinary project within the Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering Department. The aim is the integral study of all processes contributing to the risk from natural hazards in an alpine valley. Although the project focuses on a test area, the developed approaches will be generic.
Completed Research Projects
- Time - Space - Risk. Long term stability for the cultural system
The project aims to provide an inventory of spatial-chronological risks affecting the cultural heritage of Switzerland. The approach will place the tradition of the entire bulit infrastructure within the framework of an analysis of stability and developmental dynamics of the entire system.
- Generic Approaches to Risk Based Inspection Planning for Steel Structures
Computationally efficient procedures to the optimisation of inspections and maintenance for structures subject to deterioration, taking basis in the Bayesian decision theory, are developed. The relevance of these new methodologies for the analysis of entire systems is investigated and illustrated.