ONLINE VS ONSITE HAZOP
The one question in these times of COVID19 that had never been asked in the EHS industry and has suddenly pushed its way to the top in barely 18 months of existence faster than Elon Musk has pushed it in the list of richest men on earth is – ‘Should I go for an Online HAZOP or stick to the good old On-Site HAZOP’?
We try to list the factors influencing the choice and help you select what is right for you.
- COVID 19 Pandemic vs Safety
It can not be neglected that the country and the world over are facing unforeseen circumstances and any travel or commute aiding the contagion should be discouraged. It is one of the most important factor in deciding the selection of method of HAZOP. On site HAZOP requires the chairman and scribe plus the involvement team members to travel to site of sessions. This exposes them to higher risk of communication of virus and others coming in contact with them post travel.
- Use of Technology
There are many video-conferencing platforms available with easy-to-use interface. Yet, may among our learned plant personnel have a hard time using the online tools. Internet connectivity, background noise and etiquettes of interference in conversation are also some of the issues faced by HAZOP chairmen in effectively conducting the sessions.
- Current status of Workforce
While most industries can and are operating in approx. 100% WFH mode, the chemical/API/Pharma/Oil&Gas/Similar manufacturing industries do not have this leverage. To keep the disease spread rate low and production running, many companies are using an optimised number of workforce on site effectively reducing the number of personnel in given shifts. Thus increasing the workload on each individual as well. A risk assessment session which earlier could have been attended with 100% availability by obligating own responsibilities to a fellow worker may now require planning of availability in advance. In our experience, many a times important individuals have failed to attend a pre-planned session due to sudden increased workload and relevant open/discussion points had to be parked awaiting the next availability of same individual. This involves both management and plant personnel.
While the convenience of remote HAZOP can not be argued, it is a hard fact that onsite HAZOP is very efficient time-wise compared to online HAZOP.
The focus of team i.e. mainly operations, design, instrumentation, maintenance, electrical and EHS participating in the HAZOP when participating online is distributed due to physical absence of chairman and when not actively taking part in discussion, the team members tend to get distracted.
In Indsafe’s experience of many HAZOPs conducted online, a typical pharma/API/Chemical unit operation node will take twice as much time compared to onsite HAZOP.
- Workforce Involvement/Chairman’s effectiveness
If it was up to the HAZOP chairman (refering the data of survey among our in house team and consultants), the method of choice will be ONSITE HAZOP owing to multi-fold increase in active involvement of HAZOP team due to their physical presence. This allows the chairman to disrupt negative conversation better, control direction of conversation, demand inputs from specific individual, etc. in a more effective way. Humans are naturally trained in inter personnel skills during conversations and this is something that is leveraged by HAZOP Chairman naturally. This is also a skill that professionals across the world are still struggling to utilise when working with teams online.