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HAZOP analysis

Safe operations with expert HAZOP analysis

The Hazard and Operability (HAZOP) study is the most widely used Process Hazards Analysis (PHA) technique in the chemical, pharmaceutical, food, oil and gas, nuclear, and other process industries worldwide. HAZOP is used during the design stages of a new process or project, for major process modifications, and for periodic review of existing operations. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as well as other regulators around the world, recognizes the HAZOP technique as an acceptable methodology for evaluating risk.

The quality and effectiveness of the HAZOP study depends on the leader’s experience with the HAZOP technique, as well as with the process being analyzed, with process-control systems, and with unit operations in general. Our large team of highly-qualified HAZOP leaders and process-safety experts has facilitated numerous HAZOP-based PHA’s worldwide, in virtually all sectors of the process and processing industries.

Hazard and operability (HAZOP) study - Chilworth Technology
Applications of HAZOP analysis

We can facilitate HAZOPs, and other types of PHAs, in English, Spanish, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Arabic, Hindi and other languages. Our worldwide presence helps ensure intimate knowledge of local codes, standards, and cultures. Combined with our expertise in process safety engineering, extensive laboratory and large-scale testing capabilities, interpretation of test results, and ready access to process safety data, our HAZOP capability is unrivalled in our market.

Comprehensive HAZOP studies for sustainable safety

We provide a semi-quantitative HAZOP risk analysis that incorporates the philosophies of Layers of Protection Analysis (LOPA), Safety Instrumented Systems (SIL), and Fault Tree Analysis (FTA). We use these tools to assess the reliability of process controls and number and type of risk reduction measures that might be needed.

HAZOP scenario overview - Chilworth Technology
Overview of a HAZOP scenario

We begin with a review of the available Process Safety Information (PSI) and identification of missing PSI required to support our analysis. The HAZOP study would involve the following procedure:

  • Establishing the “Design Intent” for the process, including the desired and/or safe ranges for each of the operating parameters
  • Applying the Guide Words (No, Less, More, Reverse, etc.) to each of the Process Parameters (Temperature, Pressure, Flow, Level, etc.), to identify deviations from the design intent
  • Determining if the control system and emergency systems are adequate and are sufficiently reliable to prevent each deviation from escalating to an undesirable process incident
  • Estimating the severity of the consequences of each undesired incident. Consequences can be further evaluated using our expertise in consequence modeling with specialist software such as PHAST® and Effects®
  • Estimating the likelihood of occurrence of each undesired incident
  • Utilizing a Risk Matrix to determine the relative risks of the undesired incidents
  • Comparing the risk of occurrence for each incident with corporate guidelines for process risk
  • Determining the number and types of safeguards and/or process improvements that would be needed to reduce the risks to tolerable levels

Our process safety specialist’s report will present the HAZOP team’s recommendations and suggestions for improvements to the process, based on the site’s experience and on recognized and generally-accepted good engineering practices. Following the receipt of comments from the client, a final report is issued.

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Questions and answers about HAZOP analysis

Knowing what to expect before implementing a HAZOP analysis makes for a more successful and efficient process. To that end, here are some frequently asked questions and answers about how our HAZOP studies work.

What is a HAZOP study?

The Hazard and Operability (HAZOP) methodology is a systematic team-based Process Hazards Analysis (PHA) technique that can be used to effectively identify and analyze the risks of potentially hazardous process operations. It is used during the design stages of a new process or project, for major process modifications and for periodic review of existing operations.

What is the purpose and approach of HAZOP?

The purpose of HAZOP is to prevent the release of hazardous materials and energy, followed by mitigation of the consequences should a release occur. It is essential for the team to identify all the hazards of the process being studied, not just the most obvious ones. Our approach is to use a semi-quantitative HAZOP that incorporates Layers of Protection Analysis (LOPA) to assess the reliability and number of safeguards.

What are the advantages of undertaking a HAZOP study?

HAZOP is a rigorous, structured, systematic and comprehensive method, and is adaptable to the majority of process industry operations. It fosters the exchange of knowledge and experience among the participants and enables companies to anticipate potential accidents.

Who takes part in the HAZOP team?

HAZOP is a brainstorming exercise in which individuals from different disciplines participate. It is vital for the HAZOP team to be limited in size (ideally six people or fewer, excluding the HAZOP facilitator and, if there is one, the HAZOP secretary). It is difficult to establish a maximum and minimum number of participants in a HAZOP, since the various functions necessary may be assumed in different ways in different organizations. Nevertheless, and as a very general criterion, it is safe to say that a HAZOP with fewer than three participants (excluding the HAZOP facilitator and secretary) cannot generate sufficient and meaningful discussion.

HAZOP team approach - Chilworth Technology
A typical HAZOP team approach

What information must be gathered in preparation for a HAZOP study?

HAZOP requires a review of all the available Process Safety Information (PSI) as well as identification of any missing PSI necessary for an effective HAZOP analysis. This includes, but may not be limited to:

  • Hazardous materials properties including combustibility, flammability, explosivity, reactivity, self-heating, toxicity, electrostatic properties
  • Process description
  • Process flow sheets
  • Operating procedures
  • Piping and instrumentation drawings (P&IDs)
  • Equipment design specifications
  • Pressure relief systems specifications
  • Site and industry data concerning process-component failure frequencies and probabilities of failure on demand (PFD).

How long does a HAZOP analysis take?

Estimating the duration of a HAZOP is not, of course, an exact science; it requires a good knowledge of the methodology, complexity of the process, nature of the risks that can be identified up front and, of course, the idiosyncrasy of the group. In no case should a HAZOP be carried out without an estimated agenda, but it is not acceptable for the estimation to be rigid and not subject to modification (up or down) as necessary.

What is the end product of the HAZOP study?

At the conclusion of the HAZOP analysis, our process safety specialist will present the observations, findings, and conclusions of the analysis, and preliminary recommendations and suggestions of the HAZOP team to members of the site management. Shortly thereafter, our process safety specialist will submit a written draft report to the client outlining the HAZOP team’s recommendations and suggestions for improvements to the process based on the site’s experience and on recognized and generally-accepted good engineering practices. Following the receipt of comments from the client, a final report will be issued.

What mistakes are commonly encountered when conducting a HAZOP analysis?

Firstly, planning errors can negatively impact the HAZOP study. While an estimated time frame should be in place, lack of flexibility can lead to incomplete analyses. Another pitfall is insufficient, outdated, or missing information. In order to properly identify and address potential hazards, the HAZOP team must have access to timely and complete information. A lack of focus and discipline among team members is also a common problem. Allowing outside calls and interruptions during HAZOP meetings, as well as tardiness or absences hinders the team’s progress. The so-called “minimalist HAZOP” is yet another typical mistake. This refers to superficial studies where key words or parameters are omitted, repetitions are frequent or templates are used, all of which can short-circuit the brainstorming work that allows the team to uncover less obvious risks and hazards. Finally, the “bureaucratic HAZOP” is a subset of the minimalist version. Here the process is reduced to a formulaic box-checking exercise, resulting in repetition and hampering a deeper analysis.