Importance of Maintaining a Sense of Vulnerability During Sulfur HAZOPs

Presented By

Alek Hamparian - Kazarians & Associates, Inc.

Conference: Galveston 2017

Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) provides a thorough and efficient method for systematically reviewing complex systems for safety concerns. A commonly applied PHA method is the Guide-Word Style Hazard and Operability (HAZOP) approach. HAZOPs are a team effort and its results vary based on the experiences and safety culture of team members.

One common issue that often arises during HAZOP sessions is the influence of the mindset of the HAZOP team on low-probability/high-consequence scenarios. Often personnel consider low-probability/high-consequence events as not credible because they have not experienced or have not heard about a similar situation that they can relate to. This includes reliance on active safeguards and operator expertise to make the scenario very unlikely. The reasons underlying such mindset can be traced to the difficulty understanding low probability events and a sense that the status-quo is sufficient to maintain safety.

This presentation focuses on how to create a sense of vulnerability among the team prior to and during the HAZOP. From the experiences of the presenter, the sense of vulnerability directs the team to better identify low-probability/high-consequence events within their operations. Of specific concern are scenarios where the safeguard(s) or over-reliance on operators’ actions could be insufficient. Examples are provided from actual cases to illustrate the various pitfalls of improper mindset.

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