A HAZOP can fail in a number of ways and it is the responsibility of the facilitator to monitor these potential failure modes and course correct before it can impact on the quality of the output.
HAZOP turns into a design review
A design review looks at the functionality of the system and whether it will work. A HAZOP tries to break the system to see how robust it is. The two cannot co-exist, they are opposite mind sets. A small amount of design review will inevitably creep in as a result of questions asked.
The design review should be formally signed-off before HAZOP. The Leader may have to postpone the HAZOP.
Long sessions leading to analysis paralysis
Completely under the control of the leader
Schedule the review a maximum of 2 hours sessions, allow breaks and do not push into the late hours.
Defensive design engineer looking for reason why failures won’t happen rather than how they could.
The leader should try to head this off before the HAZOP or during his/her introduction.
Dominating team member, possibly the leaders boss
First diplomacy, but then the leader must have the courage of their convictions and deal to the situation even if it means removing the member from the HAZOP team.
Lack of Management support
It is difficult to manage from the bottom up. Process safety training for managers, showing the results and if they do not understand the process inviting them to attend (for a short while)
Insufficient time – a common problem if a “wet finger” is used to estimate the time required.
Remedy: Prioritise the nodes, then what gets done, gets done. What is covered must be covered properly. The leader should:
a) Put every reasonable effort in to meet the schedule and avoid time wasting.
b) Insist on prompt attendance after breaks etc. Allowing attendees to drift back to their office during a break is a recipe for disaster.
Most experienced HAZOP leaders can make a reasonable estimate of the time required if given the opportunity. There is generally a lack of appreciation of the time a HAZOP study takes.
Problem solving during the HAZOP
A HAZOP identifies problems, we still must decide what to do. BUT the HAZOP team is ideally suited for solving a problem and this is what engineers love to do to do. Stop IT. An obvious solution may present itself and this may be suggested but the ultimate solution deserves more engineering than can be provided in a HAZOP
Actions not closed out
This is a common problem, particularly if the actions run into three figures. If the actions aren’t actioned, the HAZOP has been a waste of time. A recommended action should not be summarily dismissed by anyone, without written justification. A formal “close out” sign off by a senior manager prior to commissioning is recommended.
Not an easy one. Cultural differences can cause unwillingness to criticise or body language may give the leader the impression of understanding and agreement when this is not the case. This can only be dealt with by the leader who must spend time cross checking with the participant and the scribe that their comments are captured correctly.
These are just a few of the possible issues that may arise. The solution to most lie with the HAZOP leader, project planning or management support. Download our HAZOP failure checklist that is included within our HAZOP Leaders and Participants training courses here.