The process hazards analysis (PHA) is an effective method to identify and eliminate potential hazards that can occur within a process. Recently I had the opportunity to work on a PHA with some amazing team members consisting of engineers, operators, safety specialists, and management. The effectiveness of the PHA depends upon some key factors that occur during the process. Here are three very important elements that foster an effective PHA:

  1. Communication

When all members of the PHA share their insights and opinions while the team leader facilitates this process, then the team as a whole can better identify what hazards truly exist in the process. If only a few members are the ones contributing to the conversation, then the PHA will not be as comprehensive. Communication and collaboration within the PHA team are the only way to ensure that the PHA is comprehensive for the entire process.

  1. Diversity

The PHA team should consist of members of varying backgrounds and work positions. I cannot emphasize enough through writing how effective it is to have an operator in the PHA group sharing real scenarios that they have seen over the years they have worked. These experiences give real insight into what hazards exist, and what possible solutions will work. Ensuring that a variety of personnel are involved in the PHA help to gain a fuller perspective of the covered process. Some specific roles are required by the PSM standard too!

  1. Follow-through

The PHA process identifies specific hazards and mitigation actions to remove hazards that are identified through the PHA. Much like a golf swing, if there is no follow-through then there is no real progress. Ensuring that your team follows up with recommendations made during the PHA will provide a safer process at your facility.

An effective PHA has a major advantage over a PHA performed soley for OSHA compliance. An effective PHA is the only way to provide the safest environment for your personnel and operations.