One of the key activities performed to prevent major accidents taking place offshore is the Hazard and Operability Study (HAZOP). Despite their importance, the HAZOPs I attend are having to make an increasing number of compromises to complete the task.
Even with a room full of talent and all the drawings and documents we should require, the room can at times feel fatigued, with unnecessary time spent watching a scribe input data, working with inadequate information or disagreeing on whether more should be done to prevent the consequences of that flow deviation. The closer we get to the next break; the more attendees sneak a glance at their mobile phones.
This is likely not a universal experience, but I know that I am not alone. Of concern to a growing number of people I speak to is the risk that we are extracting a lower value from exercises such as HAZOP. Today’s challenges faced by the industry will, of course, have an impact on HAZOP: The growing skills gap makes it increasingly difficult to assemble the correct team, budget constraints mean that the time available may go down and reduced headcount requires more personnel to duck out of the session to attend other engagements. The IChemE has long since recognised this. But are we doing enough?
There is a welcomed Digital Transformation well underway in this Industry but I see little evidence of this in HAZOP. Given its importance in maintaining safe operations, this puzzles me. The research into the automation of HAZOP, although interesting, I see as being a long way off. The judgement of a competent team of Engineers with first-hand knowledge of the plant is not something that I feel can be replaced – nor should it be.
Do you have experiences like the above? Are you working with any new technologies that can alleviate the problems identified and maximise the value from HAZOPs? I would love to hear about them.
Once we solve this, perhaps we can look at the follow up of HAZOP actions …