Hazop Facilitator | Facilitation Case Study

We first worked as a HAZOP Facilitator in December 2011. We conducted a HAZOP on a processing plant for an engineering firm and their mining client. Since then we have partnered with other engineering firms to facilitate HAZOPS with their clients. We have done gold processing, titanium processing, diamond processing, and biodiesel processing plants.  In this case study, we give an overview of the HAZOP process and discuss some facilitation challenges.

What is a HAZOP study?

HAZOP stands for Hazard and Operability study. It is a group process for identifying potential hazards and operability problems. What we are looking for are deviations from the design intent of both new and existing process plants.


In its most comprehensive form, a HAZOP makes an interesting use of keyword combinations as a form of forced association. For example, in a process plant where the flow of liquids is crucial, the team may use keywords like “no flow”, “reverse flow”, “over flow” & “under flow”.  The HAZOP facilitator walks the team through each step of the process using the P&ID. At each major step in the process, we review the list of keywords to see if it “triggers” a concern for any member of the team.  Once we have identified a concern we then address consequences, controls, and actions.

The Risk Matrix

We use a risk matrix to evaluate both the likelihood and severity of the deviation. We recommend the use of “anchored scales” to ensure that the group is in agreement. Instead of using “high”, “medium”, or “low” frequency, you should use, “daily”, “weekly”, “monthly”. For Health and Safety, your scale should go all the way from a “minor injury requiring first aid” to “loss of life.”

Facilitation of the HAZOP Study

In opening the session it is important to clearly define the scope of the review. The scope helps ensure that we will not miss anything through oversight. Since we are looking for deviations from the design intent, it is imperative that you have a clearly stated design intent. e.g. The plant will safely and efficiently process 3 million pounds of ore into 100,000 ounces of titanium annually.

Keeping the group focused

One of the challenges of a study like this is keeping everyone “on the same page.” We do this by posting at the front of the room blow-ups of the P&IDs. (We have also used 3D software models.) In preparation for the meeting, you should break the plant into major sections or nodes. A good referencing notation for each node is critical. We use this to link the deviations logged in the software back to drawings.

Whether using diagrams or the 3D models it is important to walk through each node under review twice. The first walkthrough is to make sure that we understand what is happening. During the first pass, we limit our discussion to questions of clarification. The second pass is where the critical discussions take place. It is where we identify and evaluate the deviations from the design intent. The two passes help make sure that we don’t lose sight of the forest because of the trees.

Another facilitation challenge is the sheer volume of detail that we need to consider. The facilitator must be aware of the group’s energy, and focus, and take action when either is faltering.

Note Taking and Reporting

The facilitator also needs to be concerned about the quality of the documentation. A HAZOP is a long and detailed process and it is very easy to “move on” before the documentation is crisp, clear and concise. To address this we found it useful to review the documentation of the hazards a second time the next day. We improved the quality of the documentation every time we did this.

Using Lihou HAZOP Manager 7.0 for documenting a HAZOPS review

We recently purchased HAZOP Manager 7.0 from Lihou. The software saves time and leads to a better review and a better report. Here is a link to Lihou site about the HAZOP software www.lihoutech.com

Do you need a HAZOP facilitator?

Having successfully facilitated multiple HAZOPs we are looking for more.  If you are considering using a HAZOP Facilitator, please give us a call at 905 880 8827. You can also or send us an email at bwithrow@facilitators.com, or use our contact form.

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