Inherent safety is based on concepts known for more than 100 years (Kletz, 1998) and is an approach to chemical incident and pollution prevention that is in some ways contrary to traditional accident prevention and mitigation methods. Inherent safety focuses on the use of technologies and procedures to reduce or eliminate hazards rather than to control them. Although the inherently safer approach is most cost effective when applied to systems at the design level, it can be applied effectively for all existing systems to reduce hazards and thereby to reduce risk that must be managed.
Traditional safety reduces risk by lowering the probability of incidents and by mitigating the consequences of incidents. This approach alone, although extremely important and generally effective, does not necessarily reduce the inherent hazards of chemical incidents because it focuses on controlling hazards rather than on eliminating or reducing them. Inherent safety methods to reduce vulnerability to intentional upsets is especially important in today’s world where terrorists may attempt to cause toxic exposures by methods that bypass or defeat traditional safety systems.