Hazardous Operations Analysis (HAZOP)

Thomas P. Jur, P.E.

Hazardous Operations Analysis (HAZOP)

Industrial fires, facility explosions and equipment breakdowns that result in large loss insurance claims often require engineering investigations to determine the cause of the loss. These investigations may also determine the value of the loss, the cost to repair or replace damaged equipment and the business interruption timeline. However, once the damaged facility has been repaired, is the facility now safe to operate and protected from future incidents? Does the facility owner have similar facilities at risk? How can these risks be identified and mitigated?

There is a risk assessment method known as a Hazardous Operations Analysis (HAZOP), sometimes referred to as Process Hazard Analysis (PHA), that is used to identify facility hazards. Once the hazards have been identified, the facility owner can assemble a team of experts to develop solutions to mitigate the hazards. HAZOPs are used to identify the risks of operating newly commissioned and existing facilities. Federal Regulations such as Title 40 CFR Part 68 Subpart C and Title 29 CFR Section 1910.119 require HAZOP investigations to be conducted for facilities handling and storing toxic, reactive, flammable, or explosive chemicals on their premises. However, a HAZOP analysis may be useful for any facility at risk of damage and loss.

Following EDT’s role as engineering consultants for the incident cause investigation and/or facility repairs, we have upon request, conducted a HAZOP analysis of the repaired equipment prior to commissioning and startup of the facility. The HAZOP identified hazards that were not addressed during the facility repairs. None of the interested parties want to incur another loss caused by the same operating conditions and equipment design. After the loss, EDT is uniquely qualified to conduct or participate in a HAZOP analysis along with the facility owner because of our detailed knowledge of the cause of the incident, the resulting damage, and the facility repairs that have been made. EDT’s engineers also have years of experience designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining facilities.

Case Study:

A hot oil heating system caught fire and damaged $7 million of equipment and utilities. The same equipment manufacturer who had supplied the original hot oil equipment also supplied the replacement equipment. This billion-dollar mining facility had four other hot oil systems in place at the site, using the same vendor equipment.

At the request of this facility owner, EDT, along with the Facility owner’s representatives and the hot oil equipment manufacturer, conducted a HAZOP investigation just prior to the commissioning of the replacement hot oil equipment. The HAZOP analysis identified and categorized hot oil system hazards that had not previously been identified. The HAZOP team estimated how frequently each hazard would result in damage and the severity of that damage, and recommended equipment design improvements and operational changes to mitigate the hazards. As a result of the design improvements and operational changes, the probability of another hot oil system fire was significantly reduced.

EDT’s experience with cause investigations, equipment and facility design, maintenance, and process operations enables us to conduct HAZOP analyses. Following our engineering investigations, we have completed several HAZOP assessments of repaired facilities, thereby reducing the risk of further losses.

About the Authors

Thomas P. Jur, P.E. and Gregory M. Walton, P.E. are consulting engineers with our Oakland, CA office

Mr. Jur provides consulting in the areas of boiler and machinery investigations, scope of damage and value of loss estimates, business interruption timeline schedules, project management, construction defects evaluations, fire causation, and product contamination investigations.

Mr. Walton provides consulting services in the areas of equipment failure analysis, the origin and cause of fires, scope of damage assessments, repair/replacement cost estimates, industrial hazard analysis, and safety reviews.

You may contact either Tom at thomasjur@edtengineers.com or Greg at gregwalton@edtengineers.com for your forensic engineering needs or (925) 674-8010

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