How It Works: Process Hazard Analysis
How It Works: Process Hazard Analysis
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How It Works: Process Hazard Analysis
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Required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a process hazard analysis is a systematic, detailed study designed to identify potential hazardous scenarios within a specific process.

A process hazard analysis (PHA) is a systematic, detailed study designed to identify potential hazardous scenarios within a specific process. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) require that PHAs are performed for many common processes before the process is operational, as in a new process or when modifications are made. These PHAs must be revalidated every five years. Though not necessarily required by OSHA or EPA, PHAs are also performed for a wide range of other processes as a safety measure.

Teamwork is central to PHAs - to meet OSHA requirements, PHAs must be conducted by a team using a defined methodology. Teams must include a facilitator familiar with the chosen methodology, specialists in the process being examined, and persons familiar with the operations and maintenance procedures in place for the process.

One commonly used methodology is a Hazard and Operability Study (HAZOP), in which the process is broken down into small sections called nodes. Using a series of guide words that stimulate brainstorming, the team examines each node. Members consider possible deviations from the design intent for process parameters such as flow, temperature and pressure. They discuss the potential hazardous consequences of deviations and any safeguards that are in place. The potential hazardous scenarios are then assigned a risk ranking based on the likelihood of a given deviation and the severity of the consequences. When appropriate, recommendations for changes are noted.

Burns & McDonnell process engineers are familiar with a wide range of processes and accepted PHA methodologies and can assist clients in choosing the most efficient and effective methodology for a particular process. As PHA team facilitators and as process specialists, their knowledge enhances the quality and meaningfulness of clients' PHAs.

For more information, contact Kara Miller-Karns, 816-822-3177.

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