What are Hazard Studies?
From a process perspective, Hazard Studies are a well proven method of identifying potential hazards and operability problems in both new and existing plants.
What is the history of the Hazard Study?
ICI developed Hazard Studies during the 1960’s to help them identify potential hazards/ operability problems in their new plant designs. Back in the 1960’s the main focus was to limit the cost impact should something go wrong. Today Hazard Studies help identify risks to safeguard a much wider audience, such as the social, environmental and legal implications/ impact that a new installation/ modification to plant may have.
Why are Hazard Studies important?
Hazard Studies are important because any person responsible for designing a new plant or modifying an existing one has a legal responsibility to ensure the design is comprehensively examined to ensure all foreseeable risks are minimised and reduced to acceptable levels.
Over the years, the usage of Hazard Studies has been extended from the chemical industry into the petroleum, food, water, pharmaceutical and other such industries where concerns over contamination are as much an issue as explosions or chemical releases.
- Hazard studies aim to safeguard and improve a number of different areas:
- Hazard Studies assist in the development of safer processes
- Hazard Studies ensure legal compliance
- Hazard Studies reduce business risk
- Hazard Studies reduce operating costs
- Hazard Studies ultimately generate increased efficiency and profitability.
The Hazard Study Process
There are a number of different methodologies that can be adopted in carrying out Hazard Studies and one of the most well known is the HAZOP.
The HAZOP procedure involves systematically questioning every part of a design/manufacturing process to establish how deviations from the design intent can occur and if they could have a negative effect on safety and/or efficient operations.
It is recommended that a HAZOP Leader/Chairman is appointed; their role will be to coordinate inputs from the relevant people to ensure the exercise has tangible business benefits.
A typical hazard study process
|Process Hazard Review 0 (PHR)||Assessment of the protective measures and recommendations made where gap analysis identifies the need for improvement. This not only satisfies the company’s own ongoing process safety policy compliance reviews, but statutory COMAH regulations as well.|
|Hazard Study 1||This is a preliminary study, carried out at the process planning stage. This study can affect decisions on location, layout, facilities and even technology.|
|Hazard Study 2||This is a more detailed study of the proposed process, carried out when overall flow diagram are available. This will study the basic operating and control procedures of the proposed design, and will help ensure that it fits the purpose. Changes in design can be implemented at this stage that cannot be afforded at a later date.|
|Hazard Study 3||This is carried out when detailed Process and Instrumentation Diagrams (P&IDs) have been developed. The HAZOP will identify where/if changes are required to the design and/or to the operation.|
|Hazard Study 4||A study that takes place following construction to check that equipment, design and procedures have been implemented according to the requirements of the previous Hazard Studies.|
|Hazard Study 5||A study takes place prior to introducing process chemicals and confirms that the project meets all the Company and legislative requirements. This can take place at the same time as Hazard Study 4.|
|Hazard Study 6||After approximately a 6 month period, this study checks that the initial operation has not encountered any unforeseen problems.|
|Hazard Study 7||This is a retrospective Hazard Study, and applies usually only to Hazard Study 3. In addition to the above, some third party suppliers will also offer assistance to clients on safety aspects of Plant Modifications via H&S checklists and / or traditional Risk Assessments.|
Organisational Benefits from carrying out Hazard Studies
The HAZOP study not only identifies hazardous situations but it also reveals operational issues that could go wrong and consequently lead to poor performance or financial loss. Other benefits include:
- Early identification of risks
- Compliance with legal requirements – adequate risk assessment
- Protection of your license to operate
- Development of safer processes
- Reduced operating costs
- Increased efficiency & profitability
- Raised stakeholder and public confidence
Hazard Study Outputs
The outputs from a hazard study are the HAZOP report and an action file. The HAZOP Report should be compiled as soon as possible after the end of the study and forms a fixed reference document. The action file should also be created as soon as possible, this is a live document and its contents will continue to be updated and changed often for many months, until the very last action has been reviewed.
Hazards studies and HAZOP’s are an important tool in today’s business world. Organisations need to look inwardly to ensure legislative compliance and also to be sure that any proposed additions or amends to their plant do not negatively impact on their business financially, environmentally or socially.