What HAZOP Is and How to Implement It at Work (With Tips)

Updated September 30, 2022

It's vital that everyone can assess and understand the different hazards they may encounter at work, and HAZOP is a risk management system to help people identify them. Knowing this system can help keep you and your colleagues safe from many dangers. In this article, we explore what HAZOP is, show you how to implement the system at work, and offer tips on using it effectively.

What is HAZOP?

Hazard and Operability Study (HAZOP) is a risk assessment system that helps identify potential dangers and hazards. The system looks at the existing process of a workplace and divides it to help professionals study each aspect. It's a highly in-depth process that accounts for every possible scenario at work by dividing existing policies and procedures and examining all variations of those policies to help employers make sure they are actively working to protect their employees at every stage of their job.

After an employer examines their policies, they can use that information to help improve safety measures or adjust how people perform their tasks, providing higher safety standards for the whole company.

How to implement HAZOP at work

Below are some steps to follow when implementing this risk management system in the workplace:

1. Create a dedicated team

Implementing this system is an enormous undertaking, and it's best practice to create a dedicated team to be solely responsible for all aspects. This can include examining current policies, identifying risks, and creating new policies or procedures. Dividing the team into groups can also help it be more effective, as it means that there are only a few people responsible for each stage of the process. This can keep the study moving with minimal interruption to anyone's workflow. These groups can work independently and still come together for cooperation when necessary.

2. Define the parameters

When working on an enormous task, it's helpful to have clearly defined parameters, so each policy or process examined has its guidelines. This means identifying what specific parts of the procedure you're looking at and whether there are any particular hazards that you are looking for. These parameters can look for risks, like the machine's temperature, shutdown procedures, or irregular maintenance. Having clearly defined parameters can help people work more effectively and be more productive.

Related: How to Conduct a Risk Assessment (Tips and Definition)

3. Examine any potential changes or exceptions

Look for any part of the process that may change during the routine. Changes and exceptions may happen because of human error, mechanical malfunctions, or various environmental factors and can cause additional hazards, so it's essential to examine them and the normal processes. Using HAZOP to prepare for these exceptions can help reduce the danger if they arise and can help to provide a higher level of safety for all employees.

4. Identify any hazards at each stage

The study's objective is to identify and minimize the risk of any hazards. This means systematically dividing the process and its deviations to identify the risks at each stage. Keep track of the dangers you discover at each part of the process so you can address them later on. This is a pivotal part of the study, as it allows a workplace the opportunity to do an in-depth analysis of their processes and improve their safety standards. Having a safer workplace can increase productivity and employee happiness.

5. Evaluate and update safety policies

Once you have identified any potential hazards in the procedures and deviations, you can create actionable updates to safety plans. These updates can be improvements to current practices or entirely new ones if necessary. They can cover all hazards that the study identified and provide ways to mitigate them or avoid them altogether. Ensure that a company can implement these changes immediately to avoid a lapse in safety between conducting the HAZOP study and when the company makes the policy updates.

Related: How to Become an Occupational Health Nurse (With Steps)

Tips for effectively using HAZOP

Below are some tips for effectively using this system in the workplace:

Record everything

When conducting a study like this, it's imperative that you record all aspects of the process. It may be necessary to present the findings to others in the company, and having a record of as many details as possible can help you give an accurate representation. Everything on record makes it easier to verify your claims and justify any policy changes you may recommend. Have all members of your team keep careful notes and share their results.

Be thorough

Be very thorough. The study aims to improve the workplace's safety, so it's better to note any potential danger, no matter how small. Being thorough can allow you or your team to create the most accurate safety plan and provide the most impact, ensuring you identify all potential hazards that can prevent workplace injuries and save having to re-conduct the study. Monitoring every aspect of the processes can reduce the chance of harm to employees and provide the best outcome for the study.

Set a realistic deadline

Having a deadline for the study helps increase the productivity and effectiveness of the process. These studies can be time-consuming, so it is helpful to keep them realistic and allow enough time for a thorough evaluation with a deadline. Deadlines can help deliver results in a reasonable amount of time so that you can implement changes in the workplace, but if the deadline is too tight, it may lead to the team missing hazards.

Provide diagrams or visuals for updates

When possible, it's helpful to provide visual aids, such as charts or diagrams. These can help people further understand what dangers you're addressing and how to perform a procedure properly. For example, if you're updating how to properly shut down a piece of equipment, providing a flowchart can help people understand each step. These visual aids can help ensure clarity that can increase everyone's safety.

Keep your focus small and specific

It's essential to keep the focus of your study small and specific. Instead of trying to redo all the processes at work all at once, address them one at a time. This can allow you and your team to analyze each process in-depth and ensure that you're thorough. While keeping your focus small may mean it takes longer to complete the analysis of all policies, it helps ensure that all hazards are being accounted for and the safety standard is being improved.

Keep a consistent team

Having a consistent team helps to increase the productivity of the study. Developing a team can take up a lot of time, so you may want a mixture of new and experienced employees. This helps ensure that various viewpoints and methods are being used. Once you have established a team, try to keep the same members. This increases productivity by reducing training time and improving the consistency of expectations and parameters.

Related: 6 Different Types of Teams (With Teamwork Examples)

Present practical policy changes

When suggesting policy changes to increase safety, it's essential that you keep the changes practical and realistic, increasing the probability of the organization listening and implementing your suggestions. If the policy changes are too drastic or expensive, a company may push back, so try to keep any recommendations you make simple and easy. This can help create a safer work environment for employees faster.


Explore more articles

  • Q&A: What Is a Talent Pool? (Plus Why It's Important)
  • What Is a Line Haul? (With Definition, Tips, and Skills)
  • 8 Types of Mindsets That Can Determine Your Career Growth
  • What Is Desktop Publishing Software? (Plus 15 Examples)
  • What Is Systems Thinking? (Benefits, Tips, and Components)
  • Understanding the Key Differences Between IRR vs. NPV
  • What Is a Teaching Portfolio? (With Template and FAQs)
  • What Is an Informal Assessment? (With Benefits and Examples)
  • How to Use a Burndown Chart in Agile (Step-by-Step Guide)
  • What Is Inflation? (With Causes, Types, Pros, and Cons)
  • How to Teach Yourself Engineering (With Essential Skills)
  • 15 Online Personal Development Courses (With Benefits)