4th March 2021

4th March 2021

4th March 2021

So we need to have a chat about HAZOP. It's one of those phrases that is thrown about the industry especially when you are building new facilities.  HAZOP actually stands for a ‘Hazard and Operability study’, it’s a structured and systematic assessment of the risks that might present to operators. It’s designed to pick up design and engineering issues that may not have been previously found. Now the reason for this explanation is that at Marches we are a bit of a specialist in this area, with Keith being a qualified (and very experienced HAZOP chair).

The idea is based on breaking the overall design of the processes into a number of simpler sections called 'nodes' which are then individually reviewed. It needs to be run by an experienced and competent person (in our case Keith) involving suitably knowledgeable and experienced multi-disciplinary teams during what can be a series of meetings. The key is to get everyone round the table and spend a significant amount of time really getting under the skin of the issues. We have found that it works best if all those likely to be involved with the scheme are there; that’s the builders, site engineers, overseeing engineers, maintenance teams and most importantly the operators (although there may be many others that are relevant for your particular scheme). The HAZOP technique is qualitative, and aims to get people really thinking about potential hazards and operability problems. Then the meeting has to be minuted and a formal record agreed between all the parties.

Now I think everyone would agree that from the sound of it doing a HAZOP seems like a sensible thing to do, but there is an important legal consideration as well. Should you be unfortunate to have an incident on your site, even one which was not in any way your fault, the Health and Safety Executive may request to see evidence that the site and process have been suitably and sufficiently risk assessed. The HAZOP is a recognised method of doing this and may help with any subsequent investigations. Similarly, if there is an environmental incident, the Environment Agency may ask to see evidence that these risks were identified and mitigated as far as reasonably practicable and the HAZOP may again help with this.

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