Reflecting on the safety zoo: Developing an integrated pandemics barrier model using early lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic

Paul Lindhout*, Genserik Reniers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
62 Downloads (Pure)


Our current predicament, the Covid-19 pandemic is first of all a health crisis. However, social disruption and economic damage are becoming visible some 7 months after the Wuhan City outbreak early December 2019. The authors wondered what could have been done better in prevention and repression of the Covid-19 pandemic from a safety management and risk control point of view. Within a case study framework, the authors gathered literature on pandemics, about country response effectiveness, and about human behaviour in the face of danger. The results consist of a safety management oriented narrative about the current pandemic, several critical observations about the current paradigms and shortcomings of preparation, and a number of opportunities for improvements of countermeasures. Many of the proverbial animals in the safety zoo, representing typical behaviours, were observed in action. Based on well proven risk analysis methods – risk management, event tree, scenarios, bowtie – the authors then analyse the generic sequence of events in a pandemic, starting from root causes, through prevention, via the outbreak of a pathogen, through mitigation to long term effects. Based on this analysis the authors propose an integrated pandemics barrier model. In this model the core is a generic pandemic scenario that is distinguishing five risk controllable sequential steps before an outbreak. The authors contend that the prevention of pandemics via safety management based biohazard risk control is both possible and of paramount importance since it can stop pandemic scenarios altogether even before an outbreak.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104907
Number of pages16
JournalSafety Science
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Bowtie
  • Integrated pandemics barrier model
  • Lessons learned
  • Pandemic
  • Paradigm
  • Safety management
  • Safety zoo
  • Scenario


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