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  • Michael Saura FSP

6 Tips for a Successful Virtual HAZOP

Updated: Mar 30

This article was originally posted on March 28, 2020 and updated on March 30, 2020. This article can also be found on LinkedIn.



Recognizing everyone's work mode and schedules have slightly been challenged these past few weeks (and until further notice). I thought it will be helpful to share some practical tips to ensure the team not only collaborates well but is also able to stay efficient during remote Hazard and Operability (HAZOP) study sessions.



1) Show Empathy


Everyone is experiencing the current situation in different ways and degrees of complexity. What may be a mere change in work location for some could mean a major childcare concern or household management overhaul for others.



The quickest help we can contribute is being considerate of and patient with others. Expect kids' noise in the background, dogs barking, and technical challenges with audio/video connection. I'd suggest opening sessions by asking how each other are, perhaps get to know each other's kids (or pets!), and budgeting time in the beginning to resolve technical issues.


2) Create a Dedicated Workspace


For both participants and facilitators, the workstation setup greatly enhances the remote PHA experience. In the absence of a home office, try to find a quiet space with enough real estate for a computer and physical drawings, if provided.


As a facilitator, I put a high premium on a fast and stable internet connection to ensure that the meeting goes uninterrupted, a high-resolution webcam, and a USB microphone for high-quality video and voice output.


Here’s my setup:


3) Prepare Well


Piping & Instrumentation Diagrams (P&IDs) are one of the primary sources of information during a HAZOP. While I still use and distribute printed copies if preferred, having P&IDs with the HAZOP nodes electronically available has always been a part of my preparation. With current technologies such as Bluebeam Revu or Adobe Acrobat (and more) available, it has never been easier to define your colored nodes electronically and make changes on the fly.



Another critical part of my preparation workflow is pre-populating the HAZOP worksheets with possible causes based on the process and the P&IDs. This reduces the time spent on thinking of causes that could have been done offline, and allow the team more time discussing and developing consequences and assessing risk. I still encourage brainstorming new scenarios, if any, as we go through the different deviations.


For additional preparation as a HAZOP participant, check this quick guide.


4) Take Breaks (Please)



Taking frequent breaks gives participants time to refresh (get coffee or tea!) and recollect before continuing with the HAZOP session. This helps the team maintain engagement and focus.


5) Select the Right Technology


Besides having a platform for drawing with color-coded nodes, selecting the right technology for video and the HAZOP can certainly increase the team’s productivity.



For video conferencing, my favorites are GoToMeeting, Zoom, and Skype, depending on which one the client prefers. Any platform that allows any participant to share their screen, or to control another attendee’s mouse and keyboard increase collaboration as if they were all in the same room.


For PHA/HAZOP Software, PHA Pro or exSILentia are powerful technologies, especially with the right pilot! These technologies can be set up with libraries and automation which can increase efficiency.


If Bow Tie is also being incorporated, BowTieXP, a software to visually assess and represent hazards and risk, is another amazing tool.


6) Use Video Conference (if Possible)


While it is understandable that not everyone is keen to share their videos, or rather it is just not their work culture, it would help to keep an open mind and at least try sharing your videos if possible. This can help ensure a smoother meeting for everyone and enable the facilitator to see people’s expressions and non-verbals (It does matter!).




Hazards do not “stay-at-home” so we need to remain vigilant and be in control of them by continuing our process safety efforts even if challenged by recent times’ circumstances.


I hope this helps.


From my "home-office" to yours, see you in the next session!


Do you have any other tips to offer? Please share!

#PSM #PHA #risk


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