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Hazard and Operability Studies (HAZOP)

Introduction Other Health and Safety Briefings have discussed aspects of Risk Assessment: Risk Assessment Practical Application in the Workplace Risk Assessment Legal Position and Interpretation Quantified Risk Assessment Techniques (Part 1) Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) Quantified Risk Assessment Techniques (Part 2) Event Tree Analysis (ETA) Quantified Risk Assessment Techniques (Part 3) Fault Tree Analysis (FTA) Hazard Analysis - (HAZAN)

This Briefing Note is intended to explain the meaning of the term Hazard and Operability Studies (HAZOP). It is intended merely to illustrate the technique and its vocabulary and is in no sense intended to be a definitive treatment. HAZOP Hazop is structured technique, which may be applied typically to a chemical production process, identifying hazards resulting from potential malfunctions in the process. It is essentially a qualitative process. A HAZOP study would typically be undertaken by a multi-disciplinary team involving chemists, engineers, production managers, designers and safety specialists etc. asking a series of what if? questions. By undertaking a HAZOP study at an early design stage, potential problems can be avoided instead of having to make costly modifications after the plant is built. The HAZOP team would systematically examine a proposed process design by asking questions using guidewords representing deviations from the intended parameters of the process i.e: Guide Words No or None More Less As well as Part of Reverse Other than Meaning The negation of the intention (e.g. no flow) A quantitative increase (e.g. high pressure) A quantitative decrease (e.g. low pressure) In addition to (e.g. impurity) A qualitative decrease (e.g. only one of two components present) The opposite of the intention (e.g. backflow) Complete substitution (e.g. wrong material) Table 1

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Table 2 indicates the type of problems that could be associated with different types of deviation: Type of Deviation No flow Typical Problems Blockage, pump failure, valve closed or jammed, suction vessel empty, vapour lock, control failure etc. Reverse flow Pump failure, non-return valve failure, pump reversed, over pressurisation etc. More temp. More pressure Less flow Blockage, loss of control, reaction, explosion, valve closed, high ambient temperature etc. Pump failure, leak, partial blockage, sediment, cavitation, poor suction head etc. Less temp. Less pressure As well as Presence of contaminants, e.g. water, air, lubrication oil, corrosion products, presence of other process products due to leakage etc. Table 2 An example to illustrate the process could be the delivery of liquid propane to a fixed tank currently fitted with a pressure relief valve and a liquid level gauge. Table 3 indicates how HAZOP could be applied to this simple situation. Deviation Cause of deviation
1. Overfilling Human error 2. Less level 1. Pump fails ON Leak

Heat loss, vapourisation, leak, inbalance of input and output etc.

Release through relief valve As above Release to atmosphere

Existing controls
Level gauge

Possible action
Consider high level alarm

More level

As above None

As above Review inspection/maintenance


Not filled properly Human error

Economic losses

Level gauge

regime and consider gas detectors

More temperature

Fire near vessel

Possible release and escalation


Consider automatic sprinkler and fire procedures

More pressure

Relief valve fails closed

Vessel overpressure/rupture


Consider high pressure alarm

Less pressure


Relief valve fails open

Release to atmosphere


Consider detection and emergency planning

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Filling hose ruptures

As above

Operator action

Check integrity of hose and quality control

As well as

1. 2.

Water contamination Impurities

Out of spec. supply As above

None None

Review QA procedures As above and can reaction occur

Other than

Wrong substance delivered

Possible reaction


Review QA procedures/can reaction occur

Table 3 Under Possible Action will be listed possible mitigating measures as well as questions needing resolution. This example is given merely to illustrate the principle underlying the technique. The actual use of the technique requires knowledge derived from a team of different specialists with an experienced group leader. Further reading: Chemical Industries Health and Safety Council (1977) Hazard and Operability Studies. Chemical Industries Association: London Lees F P (1981) Some features of and activities in HAZOP studies. The Chemical Engineer Kletz T A (1986) HAZOP & HAZAN Notes on the Identification and Assessment of Hazards The Institution of Chemical Engineers: London These Briefings contain a summary of recent Health & Safety issues, provided for general information purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal advice. The IET has tried to make the Briefings accurate and informative, but they have not been prepared by a lawyer and may not constitute an up-to-date summary of the law. The IET accepts no liability for your use of these Briefings. Further details and information on broader Health & Safety issues can be obtained from the Governments Health and Safety Executive. Legal advice should be obtained on any specific issues. The IET is unable to provide further information on this topic. Please contact the HSE. For information about the IET's Health and Safety Policy Advisory Group please contact: Health and Safety Policy Advisory Group Secretary Policy Department IET Six Hills Way Stevenage Herts SG1 2AY

2007 The IET The Institution of Engineering and Technology is a not-for-profit organisation, registered as a charity in the UK