Hazard and Operability Study (HAZOP): Why It’s Important for Safety Professionals

By Safeopedia Staff
Last updated: March 14, 2024
Key Takeaways

HAZOP studies are ideal for complex processes in high hazard facilities, such as chemical plants, nuclear facilities, and oil and gas operations.

A Hazard and Operability Study (HAZOP) is a systematic investigation of a present or planned process or operation. It was originally designed to assess chemical plants and the procedures and processes used in them, but the term is now applied more widely.


The goal of a HAZOP study is to identify and evaluate any problems within a plant or work environment that could pose a risk to the employees or equipment. It also looks at processes that might prevent the facility from running as efficiently as it should.

In this article, we’ll go over what a HAZOP study involves and give tips and advice for those who will be involved in conducting one.


How Does HAZOP Work?

HAZOP studies are carried out by a multi-disciplinary team. These teams are usually composed of four or five members, though larger studies can require a up to 20 members on the HAZOP team.

The HAZOP team holds a series of meetings during which they conduct a qualitative assessment of the plant’s design. The team’s focuses is on specific points of the design, which are explored one by one. The goal is to identify any deviations in the process parameters.

Once the team has identified a number of deviations, each of those deviations is then considered as a potential cause or effect of operational problems or hazards.

What Makes a HAZOP Study Effective?

HAZOP effectiveness is largely determined by:

  • The parameters and exact description of the study
  • The skills and experience of the team members
  • The team’s ability to work well together
  • Meaningful questions posed by the HAZOP team
  • Completeness and accuracy of the study
  • The team’s ability to use the outlined approach
  • The team’s ability to identify and concentrate on serious hazards and not get sidetracked by sheer breadth of the study

Why Is HAZOP Important for Safety Professionals?

In addition to helping the plant run smoothly, Hazard and Operability studies allow safety professionals to identify and control hazards.


HAZOP is ideal for large and complex systems. Breaking these down into their component parts and assessing each in turn gives safety professionals a more fine-grained look at potential hazards that may otherwise be overlooked.

Pros of Conducting a HAZOP Study

  • An efficient, knowledgeable HAZOP team can save the company more money than they spend on the study
  • HAZOP studies identify hazards and can thus save lives and prevent injuries
  • HAZOP teams provide a multi-disciplinary look at various processes

Cons of Conducting a HAZOP Study

  • HAZOP studies are very time consuming
  • HAZOP teams take a very focused approach to each element of a process and could miss hazards that are more evident from a bigger picture perspective
  • A team that lacks the right knowledge, experience, or competence could fail to investigate the process thoroughly and miss potential hazards


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Tips for Conducting a Successful HAZOP Study

HAZOP studies can be very long and tedious. If you’re conducting one, the following tips may make it more efficient and effective.

  1. Select a HAZOP team that has the necessary skills
    1. Do they all understand the design, operation, or procedure that is being studied?
  2. Clarify the study’s focus
    1. Are you reviewing a concept, procedure, operation, or design?
  3. Establish the parameters of the study and ensure the entire team is clear on them
  4. Prepare an information package well before the study begins
  5. Establish (in consultation with the entire HAZOP team) what software may be needed to assist the study
  6. The facilitator should ensure that each team member makes contributions related to their area of expertise
  7. Since HAZOP studies can be mentally taxing on those involved, the team should schedule regular breaks to refocus
  8. The HAZOP team’s meetings should be meticulously recorded and meeting minutes should be kept for future reference


A Hazard and Operability study is a great way to break down complex processes and consider all the ways they could go wrong.

A thorough HAZOP study can help you plan for the worst and prepare for the unexpected, but it’s only the first step. Once your HAZOP study has identified potential risks, those risks need to be addressed and corrected.

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Written by Safeopedia Staff

Safeopedia Staff

At Safeopedia, we think safety professionals are unsung superheroes in many workplaces. We aim to support and celebrate these professionals and the work they do by providing easy access to occupational health and safety information, and by reinforcing safe work practices.

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