What Is a Process Hazard Analysis and When Should You Do One?

When done correctly, a process hazard analysis identifies, evaluates, and controls the hazards found in processes that involve hazardous chemicals.

A process hazard analysis (PHA) is a set of organized and systematic assessments of the potential hazards associated with an industrial process in order to prevent and mitigate risks. When done correctly, a PHA identifies, evaluates, and controls the hazards found in processes that involve hazardous chemicals.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires PHAs to be updated and revalidated every five years. However, PHAs must be updated if aspects of your process change, including the addition or subtraction of equipment or hazardous substances or any change that could introduce a new hazard into the workplace.

Bad Process Safety = Bad Headlines

Every company wants to make headlines for great business practices, increasing profits, being recognized as an employer of choice, and being perceived as an asset to the communities in which it does business. No employer welcomes headlines that involve the words “explosion,” “fire,” or “chemical release.” In organizations that must comply with process safety regulations, workplace incidents potentially could impact employee safety, public safety, the environment, facility and property damage and horrible headlines that can put the company out of business.

The purpose of a PHA is to identify the risks that potentially could cause these situations, rank the potential for severity and the frequency such events could occur, list the safeguards in place to prevent those scenarios, identify areas where risk needs to be mitigated, and recommend follow up actions. Specifically, a PHA analyzes the potential causes and consequences of fires, explosions, releases of hazardous chemicals, and major spills of hazardous chemicals.

A PHA should provide information that will assist in improving safety and reducing the consequences associated with hazardous chemicals.

Process Safety Management Standard

Unexpected releases of toxic, reactive, or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals unfortunately make headlines every year. Regardless of the industry that uses these highly hazardous chemicals, there is a potential for a disaster if they are not properly controlled.

To help ensure safe workplaces, OSHA issued the Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals standard (29 CFR 1910.119). The standard contains requirements for the management of hazards associated with processes using highly hazardous chemicals.

The process safety management (PSM) standard emphasizes the management of risks associated with highly hazardous chemicals. It establishes a comprehensive management program that integrates technologies, procedures, and management practices.

There are 14 essential process safety management elements, one of which is a process hazard analysis. These 14 elements include:

  • Employee participation
  • Process safety information
  • Process hazard analysis
  • Operating procedures
  • Training
  • Contractors
  • Pre-startup safety preview
  • Mechanical integrity
  • Hot work permit
  • Management of change
  • Incident investigation
  • Emergency planning and response
  • Compliance audits
  • Trade secrets

The PHA is one of the most technical elements of PSM, because it requires a team at your facility to analyze the consequences of safety failures. OSHA requires that each team include one person who is “knowledgeable in the specific process hazard methodology being used.”

Once you identify your team members, technology now is available that can help facilitate PHA.

Intelex Can Help with PHA

Process hazard analysis is a core tenant of PSM. To maintain compliance with PSM guidelines, a tool is available that can help keep your operation organized, your employees safe, and your processes up and running. Intelex Process Hazard Analysis is here to help.

The tool provides increased visibility into your key PHA elements. It allows you to view nodes, chemicals, equipment, reactions, standard operating procedures, processes, and specific areas in one centralized, easy-to-navigate location. Using the information you gather, you can mitigate risk to employees and assets. Use the embedded Intelex risk register to calculate initial risk and post-control residual risk to ensure adequate controls have been put in place.

The Intelex Process Hazard Analysis application is a one-stop-shop to effectively identify, manage, and mitigate process hazards stemming from operating systems and processes for handling hazardous substances.

It allows you to build teams, set frequencies, view session logs, see all past risks, recommendations, post control residual risks, and attach full PHA reports for visibility into PHA history. You can see HAZOP details such as the location, node, associated risk matrix, and the process being assessed. In addition, you can perform the initial and residual risk assessments directly in the application.

The tool enables relevant metrics such as overall facility risk levels, active PHAs, and overdue PHAs to be seen on Intelex dashboards to increase accountability and visibility. Best of all, Intelex Process Hazard Analysis is configurable enough that you can set up your own controls, equipment, hazards, risk assessments, SOPs, and reactions with minimal effort to reduce time to value.

This entry was posted in Environment, Health and Safety and tagged by Sandy Smith. Bookmark the permalink.

About Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the Global EHSQ Content Lead for Intelex Technologies. Formerly the Content Director for EHS Today, she has been writing about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990. Her work as a journalist and editor has been recognized with national and international awards. She has been interviewed about occupational safety and health for national business publications, documentaries and television programs; has served as a panelist on roundtables; and has provided the keynote address for occupational safety and health conferences.

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