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HAZOP is another one of those environmental, health and safety terms that sounds like a big, scary deal. But like the EHS umbrella it falls under, risk management, HAZOP is simple to understand when you break it down.  

HAZOP is a type of risk analysis, and stands for Hazard and Operability study. “Study,” in this sense, means a structured examination of processes (existing or planned) to identify and evaluate problems or risks to employees or equipment. 

What is the purpose of HAZOP?  

Essentially, the purpose is to find possible hazards in a process before they happen, estimate the impact of those problems, and determine changes in the process that can help to avoid them.  

While we can complete a HAZOP at any time in a process, it’s especially important in the early stages of design to eliminate or reduce risks. Without completing a HAZOP, you could build an entire process from a flawed and risky starting point, which would compound risks as the process evolves. 

What is the HAZOP Procedure? 

There’s a specific procedure that performing a HAZOP follows to ensure a comprehensive review. 

  1. Form a HAZOP team, made up of experienced, knowledgeable employees from various areas such as operations, maintenance, engineering/process design, and other needed specialties. 
  2. Identify the elements of the system by breaking the process down into individual steps or elements and identifying the process’s parameters. 
  3. Consider possible variations in operating parameters, meaning that the HAZOP team should think of how each element could deviate from the expected norm, including how they may change over time, and the effects that they would have on employees or equipment.  
  4. Identify any hazards or failure points and document concerning variation, estimate the impact of a failure point from those problems and the likelihood of that failure.  

What value does a HAZOP bring to a work environment? How does it help improve safety?  

HAZOPs are incredibly valuable in industries like chemical, pharmaceutical, food, oil and gas, nuclear and other process industries, where people are working with large quantities of hazardous materials. It’s paramount to employee safety, ensuring that we’ve identified and assessed all possible risks, and have modified procedures, where possible, to avoid those risks. 

And, because we can conduct HAZOP analysis at any point (although as stated, it’s most helpful in the beginning, before a process has been created), there’s no excuse not to complete them for standard procedures in a facility. We should use them to improve the safety of every task and process for our employees. 

How can VelocityEHS help? 

There are tools available that make the task of completing a risk analysis like HAZOP easy, like the VelocityEHS Risk Management solution.  

Using Risk Management to record, house and manage all the qualitative data found in a risk analysis makes interpreting and assessing the results simple. This makes it easy to complete one for every task in a facility and ensure the safety of employees. 

Want to learn more about risk management? Check out our new series, Expert Insights, to learn EHS concepts from an industry expert in 2 minutes or less! Or, take a look at everything the VelocityEHS Risk Management solution has to offer.