How It Works
Barrier analysis defines the hazards, targets, and the pathways through which hazards affect targets, and identifies barriers and controls that would block the pathway, and maintain the target within the specified range or set of conditions.
The target is a person, equipment, a set of data, or anything else that exists under a specified range or set of conditions. Hazard is any adverse effect on the target, or anything that moves the target outside the required range or set of conditions. A barrier is a passive construct between a hazard and a target, used by an active control mechanism to cut off a pathway between hazard and target. A review of barrier analysis examples reveals that such barriers and controls often manifest themselves as systems, or planned activities, to ensure specific behavior or actions.
A simple illustration of the concept is possible through an analogy of a computer network susceptible to virus, malware, and other vulnerabilities. The target is the PC, the hazard is malware or virus, and the pathway is the network or the Internet connection through which the malware or virus infects the PC. A firewall to filter data and a system to scan all incoming mail for viruses serve as controls.
Barrier analysis is, however, much more complex than such straightforward targets, hazards, barriers and controls. The complexity of designs and plans, and the presence of hidden hazards and unrecognized pathways, through which the hazard travels in real life situations, can make the analysis ineffective. Success requires a thorough evaluation of both conforming and non-confirming targets, and identification of all unprotected pathways and ineffective controls.