Hazop Facilitator | Facilitation Case Study

We first worked as a HAZOP Facilitator in December 2011. The study was of a processing plant for an engineering firm and their mining client. Since then we have conducted additional studies in partnership with other engineering firms for their clients. For all  of our recent HAZOP studies we have used the HAZOP Manager 7.0 software. In this case study we describe both a manual approach and our approach using the HAZOP software. 

What is a HAZOP study?

HAZOP stands for Hazard and Operability study. It is a group process for identifying potential hazards and operability problems caused by deviations from the design intent of both new and existing process plants. In other words it is a structured walk-through concerned with safety and efficiency.


In its most comprehensive form it 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 facilitator walks the team through each step of the process using the Piping & Instrumentation Diagrams (P&ID). At each major step in the process the list of words is reviewed to see if it “triggers” a concern by any member of the team.  Where concerns are identified the group then discusses the potential consequences, potential mitigating or preventive controls, and actions to be taken.

The Risk  Matrix

A risk matrix is used to evaluate the likelihood and severity of the deviation. We recommend the use of “anchored scales” to ensure that the group is in agreement on severity and likelihood. For example instead of saying high medium or low frequency you may use labels like, daily, weekly, monthly, once a quarter, once a year, once every five years, etc. Similarily for Human health the scale may go all the way from minor injury requiring first aid to loss of life.

Facilitation of the HAZOP Study

In opening the session it was important to clearly define the scope of the review, as well as the design intent of the plant. The scope helps ensure that nothing will be missed through oversight. And having a clear design intent (e.g. The plant will process 3 million pounds of ore into 100,000 ounces of titanium annually, safely, efficiently and within all environmental regulations.)  helps the group identify operational issues.

Keeping the group focused

One of the challenges of a study like this is keeping everyone “on the same page.” We did this by posting at the front of the room blow-ups of the P&IDs. (We have also used 3D software models.) Whether using diagrams or the 3D models it is important to walk through each section under review twice. The first walk through helps with orientation, and our discussion is limited 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 did not lose sight of the forest because of the trees.

Having a good referencing notation on the drawings was important for both keeping the group focused and for note taking.  All of the notes taken by the facilitator were keyed back to the drawings using these reference numbers. The same reference numbers are used in the software.

Another facilitation challenge is the sheer volume of detail that needs to be considered. The facilitator needs to be aware of the group’s energy and focus and to take action when either is faltering. If the facilitator does not take action either something important could be missed or the decisions and documentation could be inadequate.

Note Taking and Reporting

The final issue is the quality of the documentation. When working through a long and detailed process like this the documentation could suffer. To address this we found it useful to review the documentation of the hazards a second time the next day. The documentation was often improved during this review.

Using Lihou HAZOP Manager 7.0 for documenting a HAZOPS review

For our recent HAZOP reviews we have purchased and used the software from Lihou. This was of tremendous benefit to these reviews which were conducted over an entire week.  The built in keyword matrix, risk matrix, scoring of controls, action planning tracker, and report generation all lead to a better review, and a better report.

Do you need a HAZOP facilitator?

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

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