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Democratizing PHA Data at the Plant

Written by Scott Sheppard

February 27, 2020

Author: Scott Sheppard, VP, Innovation & Technology, Risk Alive Analytics

Process Hazard Assessment (PHA) studies such as HAZOPs, are designed to leverage the collective thinking of an experienced, multi-disciplinary team (e.g. 5 to 10 people) to uncover risks in a facility. The primary outputs of a PHA are risk assessment worksheet documentation and a list of recommendations or action items which aim to address risk gaps identified in the PHA session. A PHA session can easily generate 500 or more pages of detailed risk assessment data and although participants in the PHA session have a deep understanding of this information, it is extremely difficult to do two things following a session:

  1. Determine the most important threats, safeguards and impacts in the study
  2. Inform front line workers of the most critical information in a way they understand

The term “Democratizing” is used in a similar way when speaking about the “Democratizing of technology”, discussed by Thomas Friedman, as the process by which access to technology and information rapidly becomes more accessible to more people. But how do we do this with PHA data when the information is highly technical, difficult to share and requires training to understand? The answer: analytics and visualization.

By applying specialized data processing routines and algorithms to PHA data we can determine the most critical information for operating facilities’ personnel. By visualizing this information, we can make it very quick and easy to understand. Imagine starting work at a new facility in a specific processing unit in the morning and by lunch time having a true understanding of the most critical threats, safeguards and impacts in that unit, immediately demonstrating and building safety culture.

Risk Alive® is conducting industry research in various methods of sharing PHA data in a simple, low cost and effective way which does not require new training and which significantly raises the awareness of risks in a facility.

What if you had poster-style bulletins which can be used for new employee orientations, toolbox meetings and startup/shutdown safety reviews? These posters could focus on the most critical elements of the PHA and be displayed in a consumable way, that everyone can understand. Or what if your company had a digital catalogue of bowtie style visualizations for every hazardous scenario in your facilities? Using new age thinking and ideas like this make risk easy for everyone to understand thereby democratizing PHA data at the plant level for the purpose of reducing the likelihood of a hazardous event.

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