Hazard and operability study (also called HazOp, or hazard study 3) is the most commonly used technique used for chemical process risk assessment. It is a structured approach for considering what could go wrong with the process (this is called a “deviation” from the design intent), and the consequences of this.
The study is carried out by a multi-disciplinary team, led by a trained and experienced facilitator. The process is split into bite-sized chunks, called “nodes”, and then a series of guidewords such as “no flow”, “high temperature”, “high level” are applied to each guideword. For example, “high temperature” could be caused by a steam valve sticking in the open position.
For each potential cause of a deviation identified, the facilitator will ask the team what the consequence of that deviation is. Continuing with the example above, high temperature could cause anything from a ruined batch of product to an exothermic runaway reaction. It is important that both the immediate AND ultimate consequences are established, for instance not stopping at “vessel overpressurised”, but going on to explain the consequences of that high pressure on people, the environment or the plant asset. In the case of high pressure this would commonly be vessel rupture, a loss of containment of whatever is in the vessel, and a combination of flying missiles, toxic effects or fire, causing injury or fatality to a plant operator.
The next step in the process is to establish what safeguards or control measures are in place. In the case of high temperature, this could include high temperature alarms or trips. For high pressure, protection may be provided by a relief valve or bursting disc. A process risk matrix may then be used to give an indication of the level of residual risk remaining, and whether the risk is tolerable or not.
If the risk is not tolerable, or if the team believes that more can be done ‘reasonably practicably’ to reduce the risk, further actions will be recorded and assigned to one of the team members to complete.
For more information on HazOp, see our “what is a HazOp?”
A HazOp study of a number of solvent recovery distillation columns on a waste treatment site.Industry: Water + Waste
A Hazard and Operability Study (HazOp) on a new installation, which included a new laboratory and guest area, with a new 500 litre gin still, plus associated tanks and pipework, for carrying out special and limited-edition gin distillations.Industry: Brewing and Distilling
A retrospective HazOp study was completed for 3 distillation columns used to recover solvent from chemical waste. Key safety actions were identified to reduce the operational risk.Industry: Water + Waste
HazOp study of water and steam processes for a boiler.Industry: Mining / Metal / Cement
HazOp of new chemical processesIndustry: Chemical
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