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Hazop Facilitator | Facilitation Case Study

We recently facilitated a HAZOP study for a company in the design phase of a the processing plant for a new mine. This short post describes what we learned as a HAZOP facilitator. After publishing this original article we completed a second review with DRA Americas for  their client who was developing a high grade gold palladium project in Brazil. For this project we used the Lihou software. You can read our comments on this below.

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 a process flow diagram. 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.  If you would like a more thorough explanation of the process see http://www.lihoutech.com/hzp1frm.htm which is on a website run by a vendor of HAZOP software.

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.

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 engineering drawings. We walked through each section of the process twice. The first time we went all the way through without discussion. The second time  through was where all of the discussion took place.  The two passes helped 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.

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.

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 the Lihou Software for documenting a HAZOPS review

For our second HAZOPS review we used the software from Lihou. This was of tremendous benefit to this review which was conducted over an entire week. The software was of tremendous assistance to the facilitation process by helping to guide the process and by capturing highly relevant documentation tightly connected to the underlying P&ID.

Do you need a HAZOP facilitator?

After our second HAZOP facilitation experience we are looking for more.  If you are considering a HAZOP review and considering using a facilitator, please give us a call, or send us an email.  Contact Meeting Facilitators International


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