University of Limerick
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Mitigating employer liability for producers and users of engineered nano materials

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posted on 2015-12-16, 15:51 authored by Eamonn McAlea
This thesis presents a series of arguments, tools and techniques to help facilitate the efficient transfer of occupational risk from the community of producers and users of engineered nano materials (ENMs) to insurers, thereby helping secure the promise of an on-going technological evolution for which these materials are paramount. As an emerging technology, there is insufficient data and few guiding analogues or useful metaphors to inform a perspective on their risks for insurers and regulators. In a climate of uncertainty, their utility is threatened by the possibility of over regulation or excessive insurance costs. This work firstly establishes the potential long term economic gains from ENM applications and highlights how such gains could be undermined by over regulation or high insurance costs. Insurance is identified as the primary vehicle to not only facilitate risk transfer, but to also act as a surrogate regulator in the interim, thereby providing a well-tailored template for on-going developments in command and control regulation. A hazard inference system is described that can be used by insurers or regulators to quickly flag an ENM as potentially hazardous on the basis of its physicochemical properties. Available characterisation data for engineered nano materials can be incongruous and there remains a dearth of standardised information on these materials. A Bayesian regression framework is developed that can help insurers and regulators make best use of this characterization data as it stands and as it becomes more available. Finally, an insurance framework is specified that includes a protocol, specified as a mark-up language, for consistently communicating complex risk information from producers and users of engineered nano materials to insurers. This framework also deploys Bayesian methods to account for unpredictable and difficult to measure ENM exposure and hazard levels for the purpose of insurance pricing. The combined contributions of this work provides a clearer perspective for insurers regarding the nature of the occupational risks stemming from ENM production and use, and offers several methodologies that insurers could adopt to aid their risk management needs in this regard.


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  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Murphy, Finbarr

Second supervisor

Mullins, Martin

Third supervisor

Tofail, Syed A.M.



Other Funding information




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