Comparing PHA Review Techniques - A Case History on Review Meeting Dynamics and Missed Hazards

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Complete, thorough, and correct process safety management depends to a large extent on complete, thorough, and correct process hazard identification. Not enough attention is given in the industry to the failure to identify hazards at process hazard analysis (PHA) review meetings. Findings from the examination of incidents and disasters in industry indicate that not all process hazards are recognized during PHA reviews, and yet a "check the box" mentality persists. This is unacceptable: We cannot manage a hazard if we don't know that it exists. Lives and property depend on managing all the hazards, not just the ones we happened to find on a particular day.

HazOp is widely recognized as the standard for conducting thorough, complete PHA reviews. But does it always work? If not, why not? And what can we do to improve our odds of identifying all the hazards that exist in a given process facility?

In this case study, outcomes of actual HazOp reviews in the oil & gas industry are categorized and compared with the results of a "cold eyes" structured what-if examination method. Differences in the success rate of methodologies to identify process hazards are quantified and discussed with the aim of improving the industry success rate in identifying process hazards during PHA reviews in a cost-effective manner.

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