Simultaneous Operations

Last updated: March 6, 2019

What Does Simultaneous Operations Mean?

Simultaneous operations, also known as SIMOPs, refer to two or more work activities carried out within the same location at the same time. The term is used within the process manufacturing industries.

SIMOPs complicate occupational safety assurance efforts, as they create a situation in which the risks of each operation must be understood both separately and in terms of how they could interact with or affect the other operations being undertaken. To ensure that two or more activities do not create an unacceptable level of risk when conducted as SIMOPs, applicable hazard analyses must include a SIMOPs review.

Safeopedia Explains Simultaneous Operations

Recognition of the hazards associated with conducting SIMOPs is a fundamental aspect of safety within the process industries, especially the petrochemical industry. For instance, the 12th “golden rule” of the 12 Golden Rules for Safety issued by French petrochemical firm Total is a prohibition on conducting any SIMOPs without first receiving a safety assessment and subsequent formal authorization. According to Total, an approximate minimum of one in 20 serious or potentially serious accidents within the company have SIMOPs, also referred to as co-activity, as a contributing factor.

The risk factors associated with SIMOPs are exacerbated by the fact that it is common for process facilities to include multiple groups of contractors that may not follow the same safety procedures or have the same safety culture. This can increase the risk associated with co-activity if the groups working alongside each other make incorrect assumptions about what they can expect the other group’s behavior to be. As a result, the risk associated with SIMOPs is substantially greater than the sum of the individual operations present within the working space. Typically, this elevated risk must be managed through the appointment of a supervisor who has the overall responsibility of ensuring that the various work groups within the workspace are able to work safely alongside each other.

All forms of activity are considered to be part of the SIMOPs, whether they are large complex operations or routine operations and whether they involve extended or limited co-activity within a given shared space.




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