Fishbone diagram and risk matrix analysis method and its application in safety assessment of natural gas spherical tank (2023)


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Journal of Cleaner Production

Volume 174,

10 February 2018

, Pages 296-304

Author links open overlay panelTongyuanLuoaPersonEnvelopeChaoWuaLixiangDuanb


Gas spherical tank leak can cause a serious fire and explosion accident, resulting in huge economic losses and posing a huge threat to social security. By combining improved fishbone diagram and risk matrix model, we studied a comprehensive risk assessment method. Quantitatively calculate the probability of occurrence: Firstly, we established a fishbone diagram model to analyze the causes of all spherical tank leakage events. Then the experts would rank causes of the incident in language description, next we assigned weights to these experts’ competencies by Entropy–Analytic Hierarchy Process, so we could turn the language description into fuzzy probability value using fuzzy mathematic theory. Finally, we calculated the occurrence probability of the Resultant events by Fault tree model. Quantitatively calculate the probability of consequence: From casualties, economic losses and environmental damage to consider the total loss caused by the leak accident, and combining with the probability of occurrence to calculate the consequences losses quantitatively. After modifying classical risk matrix, we analyzed the spherical tank leak level with considering occurrence probability and sequence severity. At the same time, we proposed specific measures for reason accidents which have greater occurrence probability to eliminate or reduce the risk of consequences.


As the clean energy becomes more and more popular with people, natural gas and its accessories get used more frequently and there is also hidden risk. Inflammability and explosion hazard are the two of the most dangerous properties. Methane is inflammable and explosive gas which is the main composition of the natural gas. Spherical tanks play an important role in the natural gas industry at present. Three ways are recommended for the storage of natural gas: gaseous state storage under pressurized (20.7–24.8Mpa) state, atmospheric cooling (−162°C) in the form of liquid storage and storage in the form of solid hydrate (Ge, 2003). The former two forms of natural gas are called Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). The common storage forms in China are gas and liquid while the natural gas is stored in the form of gas in the spherical tanks. With the extension of storage tank running time, the continuous evaporation of gas from the tank will increase the pressure on the tank. The spherical design requires not only a certain bearing capacity, but also a good thermal insulation performance (Xiaoming Li etal., 2011).

The research object of this paper is the spherical tanks with natural gas in gas forms in it, which has a great danger of explosion and leakage. Once there is a leak in the filling and transit operation, a fire and explosion accident is hard to avoid. Therefore, the safety management of natural gas spherical gasholder should be strengthened to prevent fire and explosion accident. It is of vital importance to improve safety and prolong safe service life to the storage of natural gas and the steady development of national economy. In recent years, natural gas spherical tank fire and explosion accidents have occurred, causing heavy casualties and economic losses. To maintain the risk of spherical tank at acceptable levels, comprehensive risk evaluation of the spherical tank is needed. Risk assessment is divided into qualitative and quantitative evaluation and both have advantages. In the process of quantitative evaluation of storage tank risk, Korkmaz (Korkmaz etal., 2011) made a seismic risk performance evaluation. By establishing the model of the solid and concentrated mass spring system and the seismic response data of the tank structure were obtained, then he got the probability value of seismic risk of storage tank under the historical data and vulnerability analysis. Lei Shi (Shi etal., 2014) made a fault tree analysis of fire and explosion accident of oil and gas storage tank by using improved analytic hierarchy process and fuzzy set theory, established a fuzzy fault tree and quantitatively calculated the probability of fire and explosion accident of the tank, and basic events are sorted by importance. To realistically predict the transient pressure change of LNG storage tanks, Yeelyong Noh and Yutaek Seo (Noh etal., 2014) realized the design of storage tank pressure based on risk information while using the Monte Carlo method in the simulation of dynamic process. They overcome the difficulty that it was hard to obtain the accurate pressure prediction data due to the simulation process is affected by random factors. Hans J. Pasman and William J. Rogers (Pasman and Rogers, 2012) used Bayesian network model for quantitative risk analysis, established a cost benefit comparison support decision system, and made risk assessment and comparison compression and liquefaction processes of natural gas. Daqing Wang (Wang etal., 2013) combined fuzzy set with fault tree and did quantitative assessment of the risk of fire and explosion in oil tank. We can determine the most vulnerable factors that cause the tank fire and explosion by quantitative calculation and then put forward control measures to reduce the risk of storage tank accidents and improve operational efficiency. Eui Soo Kim and Seung-Kyum Choi (Kim and Choi, 2013) studied the tissue fracture metallography and material properties on CNG tank failure. The main causes of failure of CNG tank are obtained by finite element analysis. And they put forward the corresponding prevention and control measure. Martins, MR and Schleder, AM (Martins etal., 2014) proposed a six iterative risk analysis method based on the hybrid Bayesian network used in LNG tanks which used Bayesian networks and storage tank history data calculating the probability value through continuous variable modeling. This method was very useful for solving the existing data which was scarce or nonexistent in the probability of the risk event. Guo (Guo etal., 2015) used TNT equivalent method to calculate the shock wave overpressure of the vapor cloud explosion of natural gas storage tanks. He used the human vulnerability model to calculate the probability of death, got the personal risk model of natural gas storage tank and determined the safe distance, providing scientific basis for the formulation of safety planning and protection measures. Yan Jia-wei and Song Wen-hua (Yan etal., 2011) introduced the basic situation of a gas station and made quantitative risk assessment of spherical tanks in the station by Dow Chemical Index Evaluation Method. There were security measures for storage tank safety to reduce the loss of the accident effectively. For operation manager, it was a reference of a more comprehensive understanding of the whole tank risk status. It was conducive to the planning, management and accident prevention of natural gas storage tank area. D. Yao (2014) used the Norway classification society SFETI software for the accident simulation of a liquefied natural gas storage tank. The leakage and diffusion, pool fire and explosion models were used to simulate the model. It was concluded that the damage range and influence area of different accidents can provide a theoretical basis for the accident rescue and disaster prevention and reduction.

There is no comprehensive integration of qualitative and quantitative risks, and the research method is relatively traditional and one-sided. The traditional risk matrix (RM) is measured from the occurrence probability and severity and the roughness of the RM also results in poor operational performance. The established risk grade of low middle and high cannot meet the fine identification and management of so many risk factors of the natural gas spherical tank. Fishbone diagram (FD) analysis can make complex system organized, analyzing the causes of risk qualitatively. But it cannot realize the quantitative evaluation of risk. Fault tree analysis itself has the problem that the basic event probability is difficult to quantify accurately, and the result is not accurate. Therefore, we can consider integrating the FD, fuzzy mathematics and improved RM making up for the lack of the three and realizing comprehensive quantitative risk assessment. This is not only to achieve quantification of fishbone deep causes and risk of consequences, the probability of accident tree and refinement of RM, but also to reduce the subjective influence and to improve the accuracy of risk assessment.

Section snippets

The technology roadmap

A combination method of quantitative risk assessment of FD and RM will be proposed in order to carry out the quantitative risk assessment of natural gas spherical tank, realize the quantitative conclusion fishbone model and reduce subjectivity as much as possible. The quantitative evaluation includes probability sorting of basic events resulting in tank leakage fire and explosion and severity of accident occurrence. At the same time, the risk level of spherical tank is given according to RM.

Application of FD

The risk factors of natural gas spherical tank are different from the buried pipeline or gas storage. The spherical tank is exposed to the outside and stand the test of the natural environment. High temperature environment is especially one of the very unfavorable factors. This part will discuss the case of fire and explosion accident of natural gas processing plant 102# tank in Jilin of Jilin province. The tank is put into use only two years with a volume of 400 cubic meters. Main material


In summary, the failure probability of tank leakage level of result event is the high level. Therefore, the risk rating in probability of leakage in 7×7 RM is 5, indicating the high rate of the tank leak. The leak consequence grade is rated as F showing that the leakage effect is very high. Combined with the RM can judge the risk level of spherical tank leak for grade VI and comprehensive risk assessment for high risk. So we must take immediate remedial measures to reduce or eliminate the


Risk assessment plays a very important role in the safety management of storage tanks. Leakage of gas tank may lead to catastrophic accidents and huge economic losses. Therefore, the comprehensive risk evaluation method can help to identify and reduce the risk source and risk reduction tank level. In view of this, this paper studies the establishment of a comprehensive risk assessment system to define the risk level of spherical tank. The combination method of the RM, FD and fault tree method


I thank two anonymous reviewers for critically reading the manuscript and helpful discussions. This research was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant nos. 51534008).

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    How the fishbone diagram could be used for risk management? ›

    The purpose of the Fishbone diagram in Risk Management is to identify various root causes of a potential problem for a project or program. It does so by having the user brainstorm over various causes for the problem and continuously going to deeper levels by finding the cause of the previous cause.

    What is fishbone risk analysis? ›

    A cause and effect diagram, often called a “fishbone” diagram, can help in brainstorming to identify possible causes of a problem and in sorting ideas into useful categories. A fishbone diagram is a visual way to look at cause and effect.

    What is fishbone diagram 7 QC tools? ›

    Cause-and-effect diagram (also known as a fishbone or Ishikawa diagram) Introduced by Kaoru Ishikawa, the fishbone diagram helps users identify the various factors (or causes) leading to an effect, usually depicted as a problem to be solved.

    What is a fishbone diagram in project management? ›

    The fishbone diagram identifies many possible causes for an effect or problem. It can be used to structure a brainstorming session. It immediately sorts ideas into useful categories. It is also a decomposition technique that helps trace an undesirable effect back to its root cause.

    What is the main purpose of using a cause and effect diagram? ›

    A Cause-and-Effect Diagram is a tool that helps identify, sort, and display possible causes of a specific problem or quality characteristic (Viewgraph 1). It graphically illustrates the relationship between a given outcome and all the factors that influence the outcome.

    What are the categories of a fishbone diagram? ›

    Most of the time, manufacturing teams will use these six categories in their Fishbone Diagrams: Machine, Methods, Measurements, Materials, Manpower, and Environment.

    What are the 5 Whys fishbone? ›

    The 5 Whys and fishbone diagrams can be used on their own or as a follow-up to techniques like the “last 10 patients” chart audit or fall-out analysis. The 5 Whys involves asking and answering the question "Why?" five times or as many times as it takes to get to the "root cause" or end of the causal chain.

    Which step of problem-solving process involves fishbone analysis? ›

    Fishbone diagrams are considered one of seven basic quality tools and are used in the "analyze" phase of Six Sigma's DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, control) approach to problem-solving.

    Why are 7 quality tools used for? ›

    7 QC tools are a set of graphical data representation and problem-solving techniques. These seven basic quality tools are integral to any process improvement methodology, including Six Sigma, total quality management (TQM), etc. They help in troubleshooting a variety of quality-related issues.

    What are the 7 quality control tools and discuss it briefly? ›

    These seven basic quality control tools, which introduced by Dr. Ishikawa, are : 1) Check sheets; 2) Graphs (Trend Analysis); 3) Histograms; 4) Pareto charts; 5) Cause-and-effect diagrams; 6) Scatter diagrams; 7) Control charts.

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    A fishbone diagram helps team members visually diagram a problem or condition's root causes, allowing them to truly diagnose the problem rather than focusing on symptoms. It allows team members to separate a problem's content from its history, and allows for team consensus around the problem and its causes.

    What are the advantages of using a fishbone diagram? ›

    The Fishbone diagram helps recognize the cause-and-effect relationship between problems and processes. Fishbone diagrams integrate brainstorming into the problem-solving process. Increased brainstorming boosts creative thinking. Fishbone diagrams open up new channels outside of restrictive thought patterns.

    What are the most common types of risk that can impact projects? ›

    9 Common Types of Project Risks
    • Cost Risk.
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    Cause and Effect Diagram Example

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    Fishbone Diagram

    A tool used to solve quality problems by brainstorming causes and logically organizing them by branches. Also called the cause-and-effect diagram and Ishikawa diagram.

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    Risk analysis is the process of identifying and analyzing potential issues that could negatively impact key business initiatives or projects. This process is done in order to help organizations avoid or mitigate those risks.

    What is root cause analysis? ›

    Root cause analysis (RCA) is the process of discovering the root causes of problems in order to identify appropriate solutions. RCA assumes that it is much more effective to systematically prevent and solve for underlying issues rather than just treating ad hoc symptoms and putting out fires.

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    A risk assessment is the process of identifying what hazards currently exist or may appear in the workplace. A risk assessment defines which workplace hazards are likely to cause harm to employees and visitors.

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