Safety & Security: the essential risk assessment!

Safety & Security: the essential risk assessment!


One of the basic human needs is security.

In 1954, the American psychologist Abraham Maslow introduced his well-known hierarchy of needs. He placed security as the second-tier priority, right after physiological needs. This security encompasses physical safety, therefore, the need to feel protected and secure.

Never before has there been such an extreme need for security and protection in every aspect of life. However, it’s essential to understand that feelings and reality are not the same thing and should not be accorded equal significance.

Advanced algorithms now help us assess the real risk level in a specific situation or a particular issue, and to take suitable precautions. However, a person’s natural instinct to protect their own life rests on the unpredictable.


The transition to Industry 4.0, which is reshaping industrial production and bringing new possibilities for development, has also influenced safety in the workplace. The opportunities arising from technological innovation and its roles in redefining the labour world can have a positive impact on occupational health and safety management.

Work processes are now designed with an innovative “Prevention through Design” (PtD) approach, which focuses on anticipating and designing for potential hazards, incorporating the latest technologies, robotics and active safety tools.


Security (derived from the Latin ‘sine cura,’ meaning without concern) is defined as the “knowledge that the evolution of a system will not produce undesirable effects.”

In other words, it means understanding that a certain action will not lead to harm in the future.

In practical terms, a system may evolve without generating undesirable states, yet this doesn’t automatically ensure its safety.

Absolute safety is achieved when there is an absence of danger. However, translating this concept into real life poses challenges, even though the application of safety regulations makes it harder for damaging and harmful events and accidents to happen, ultimately improving working conditions.

While safety and security are two related concepts, they have a different basis.

They both revolve around safeguarding the well-being of individuals or the integrity of a given entity.

The distinction lies in what threatens this condition.


  • Safety is concerned with protection against accidental events, potentially harmful depending on the type of activity performed, but arising from uncontrollable circumstances.
  • Security, on the other hand, deals with protection against intentional attacks such as war, terrorism, criminal aggression, or voluntary harm to people or property carried out by individuals or groups with harmful intent.

In both cases, the central consideration is to accurately assess the risk and respond appropriately, aiming to prevent disastrous consequences for people!


Risk analysis is the fundamental tool that, by examining processes, equipment and materials, facilitates the identification of prevention and protection measures. This involves planning their implementation, monitoring their effectiveness and efficiency, and adopting any necessary changes for improvement in relation to technical/technological and organisational innovations introduced in the field of safety. The aim is to eliminate and/or minimise any potential damage or harm.

The assessment of health and safety risks holds paramount significance within the broader spectrum of protective measures. It is the prerequisite for the entire prevention system in the workplace and, according to the changes introduced by the European Community, this assessment should culminate in a comprehensive document containing:

a report detailing the assessment of health and safety risks at work, outlining the criteria used to assess these risks;
identification of protection and prevention measures, including personal protective equipment;
a program outlining the measures deemed necessary to ensure the improvement of safety levels over time.


In Italy, workplace safety is governed by Legislative Decree 81/2008, also known as the Consolidation Act on Workplace Safety. This decree lays down rules, procedures, and preventive measures to be adopted to make workplaces safer, whatever they may be. The primary goal is to prevent or, in any case, minimise workers’ exposure to job-related risks, reducing the likelihood of injuries, accidents or, worse, the onset of occupational diseases.

This legislation emerged after a troubled path that began in 1994 when the framework for corporate analysis and safety obligations underwent significant revisions and expansions. However, the origins of this subject can be traced back to the 1950s, a period marked by great economic growth, but also by a significant increase in workplace accidents and illnesses.


We have learnt that safety refers to all precautionary measures taken to prevent unpleasant events or at least to make them less likely. However, these protective measures, both active and passive, depend on specific risk assessments tailored to each context, be it a plant, factory, workplace or environment.

In terms of their objective, we have two types:

Active safety: i.e. devices that can prevent fraudulent acts, restrict access to prohibited or dangerous areas, or manage environmental anomalies. Examples are burglar alarms, video surveillance systems, RFID-based tracking and control systems, access control gates.

Passive safety: referring to all those devices or measures intended to ‘contain’ and mitigate the negative effects of an unpleasant event that has already taken place. This includes, for example, refuge and rescue chambers, robust sealed units built to sustain human life and shield individuals from the aftermath of sudden explosions and gas leaks in underground tunnels or petrochemical plants (when it is necessary to regain strength along the escape route) or from the damaging effects of terrorist chemical or bacteriological terrorist attacks (when the escape route is difficult to reach or far away).

The key distinction between active and passive safety lies in the timing of their intervention.

Active safety is about preventing an accident by means of devices that perform actions, whereas passive safety has the role of limiting the consequences after an accident has occurred.


Large public construction and reconstruction projects have increased significantly, accompanied by the imposing nature of the structures. This expansion has brought about increased dangers, leading to a rise in work-related accidents. More often, people are exposed to the risk of falling, being struck by objects or crushed by heavy materials and machinery.

The petrochemical sector is gaining more attention from governments, industries and trade associations due to unfortunate accidents resulting in worker fatalities, but also due to the sector’s undeniable and substantial environmental impact.

Moreover, external factors, such as increasingly impetuous and sudden climatic changes in certain geographical areas, add to the complexity and risk of performing certain work activities, especially in environments already deemed physiologically hazardous.

This is particularly evident in the mining and quarrying industry, where the inherent nature of the work creates broader and more objective situations of danger. In this context, the challenges extend beyond predictability, emphasising the crucial importance of ensuring the safety of people through strict adherence to correct and meticulous procedures.

In tunnels, mines, excavation sites, and other underground work environments, the risk factors increase compared to a “normal” workplace.

Containing overall risks in these settings primarily involves: 1) preventively assessing possible interference between people, equipment and vehicles; 2) ensuring that vehicles transiting in the area are visible to all workers; 3) providing sufficient visibility of the vehicles to all drivers during operational and manoeuvring phases; 4) making workers and individuals present on the worksite easily identifiable; 5) using signs to control access to various areas (e.g. separating pedestrian paths from vehicular paths); 6) ensuring adequate lighting in the workplaces, both during the day and night.


A number of rescue measures are adopted to deal with unforeseeable events, which are activated when a critical or disastrous event occurs, necessitating prompt action for human survival.

In situations where escape is not possible, and the route to the outside is uncertain, refuge units come into play, serving as real rescue “chambers.”

The manufacturing of these units commenced in the early 1990s, a time when the concept of safe shelter was not yet covered by the UNI EN 16191:2014 standard, which now governs tunnel safety.

After nearly two decades of production and continuous product evolution, we are confident in the effectiveness and durability that these mobile units offer workers in dangerous situations.

These advanced, highly insulated and internally armoured units are equipped with filtration and air conditioning systems, as well as emergency supplies like water, food and first aid kits.


WE WALTER has extensive experience in the field of safety in critical contexts. For decades, it has specialised in designing and building customised shelter units engineered for full operation even in the most extreme conditions and complete autonomy (stand-alone mode), to protect the lives of people working in the oil and gas industry, underground mines or tunnels, and in various emergency situations such as wars, terrorist attacks, and incidents involving chemical or bacteriological contamination.

WE WALTER’s refuge and rescue units are equipped with ballistic armour, making them robust and secure. These armoured, pressurised, heat-insulated and fire-resistant units feature advanced ventilation, oxygenation and internal atmospheric cleaning systems, and come with bathroom facilities with a shower, as well as sleeping quarters.

Furthermore, demonstrating a deep commitment to accident prevention in the workplace and to the protection of human life in all contexts, even the most difficult ones, WE WALTER develops advanced indoor and outdoor systems for real-time localisation and interaction with people.

WE WALTER combines its extensive experience and traditional approach with a forward-thinking mindset, developing innovative solutions and processes.

“The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size.”
Albert Einstein