Hazard and Operability, or HAZOP studies, are a formalised approach to identifying hazards and improving operations in process plants. A HAZOP study is a systematic process, which involves considering, in turn, each piece of equipment and line, mode of operation and type of deviation from normal operation that has a negative consequence, and makes certain that safeguards are in place for safe and reliable operation.
The technique has been used extensively in process industries, primarily as a tool in the design phase of a plant or upgrade.
Beca AMEC has the ability to carry out in-depth HAZOP analyses of process plant operations. The HAZOP study is carried out by a team, which may include representatives from the design, vendor, process, operating and maintenance groups.
The benefits of a HAZOP study include:
- identifying where a plant may have deviated from the original design intent and safety concepts
- the utilisation of combined experience of staff, in a constructive way
- early interaction between design and end user personnel
- confirmation of plant ‘fit for purpose’
- establishment of a milestone which permits detail design to proceed unhindered
- reduction in delays with start-up and commissioning.
The timing of a HAZOP is critical to maximising the benefit, as inevitably, it will result in design changes. Time is generally required to implement these changes, so it is ideal for a HAZOP study to be conducted at the start of detail design phase when Process and Instrument Diagrams (P&IDs) are 90% complete.
A HAZOP study can then provide a valuable tool in project scheduling, such as to fix a 'Design Freeze' milestone. Process changes from this stage must be agreed as essential, so as to minimise cost impact.
Beca AMEC uses industry standard Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) software to minute HAZOPs. The program is quick to set up and simple to use and it generates professional, comprehensive reports.
The HAZOP study not only allows engineers to improve the safety of a process through highlighting potential issues at an early stage of development, but also serves to simplify the process and improve operability of existing processes which may have been operating for many years.