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Structural Concrete, Vol. 4, no. 1, March 2003

Three criteria of acceptable risk

Niels C. Lind, University of Waterloo, Canada

Structural safety is a part of general safety in a society. Safety factors should conform to a general rationale for all life safety. Two rationales are presented here, using a principle of time economy and using social indicators. The common-sense time principle of risk management states that a `life-saving' alternative, if it is truly to save lives, should return to the community more years of life in good health than the years of work consumed to pay for its cost. Alternatively, a risk acceptability criterion can be derived from a compound social indicator that reflects general benefit to society and that is a function of gross domestic product and life expectancy. To be acceptable, alternatives should increase the social indicator. The two compound social indicators, the Life Quality Index and the Human Development Index, yield practically identical criteria for risk acceptance.

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