In the late 1990's after a large number of serious process safety accidents around the industry, many which included United Steelworker Union members, companies, unions and employees started working together to make efforts to lower the number of worker fatalities and cataclysmic incidents.In order to do so, the Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals (PSM) standard was put into place. PSM includes fourteen steps or controls; one of them being Process Hazard Analysis.
Process Hazard Analysis, also known PHA, is an "organized systematic effort to identify and analyze the significance of potential hazards associated with processing or handling of highly hazardous chemicals." (OSHA Academy) It must be performed on every process that falls under the PSM. In order to successfully complete a PHA, companies need to have a team of people on board making sure it goes as planned. Those teams typically include, a facilitator, a scribe,engineers, operators, supervisors and all other workers must be educated on it as well. (NGE Consulting) Having this team in place ensures the analysis will be executed to the highest degree. The many different methods used during a Process Hazard Analysis are based on the type of process being evaluated. Some of those include a checklist,the "What If" approach, Hazard and Operability Study (HAZOP), Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) and Fault Tree Analysis. Each of these methods have different uses and are vital parts in executing a safe and successful Process Hazard Analysis.
There is a level of depth that goes into Process Hazard
Analysis and there is good reason for that. PHA's
purpose is to "..determine failure points, methods of
operation and any factors that could potentially lead to
accidents," (NGE Consulting) as well as analyze the
source and the effects offires,explosions, releases,and/or spills of harmful chemicals. All in all, PHA was created to ensure the safety of these facilities,their workers and the communities
they serve. With Process Hazard Analysis,workers can identify a place in a process where something could go wrong and evaluate the severity of its consequences. Because of this, the odds of intercepting an issue in the facility,have become greater, lowering the possibilities of catastrophic events involving hazardous chemicals. My father,a United Steelworker Union member, works at an oil refinery and is very familiar with the PSM and all its pieces. He explained to me just how crucial PHA is atthe refinery, "because it is so thorough, it can sometimes take as long as eight weeks to complete." Knowing that all these processes are put in place to keep people like my Dad safe while doing his job, gives my family and I a higher sense of comfort and peace when he walks out the door to go to work.
With regulations such as Process Safety Management, evaluating safety hazards can be done thoroughly. Process Hazard Analysis and its many steps plays a key part in maintaining safety,for our refineries, our families and our communities.
"Process Hazard Analysis (PHA)." Six Sigma Safety,
"Process Hazard Analysis·NGE." NGE, 21Jan. 2019,