A Hazard and Operability Study (HAZOP) is a qualitative, team-based technique for hazard identification. It was initially developed to analyse chemical process systems, but has since been extended for use in other ‘high risk’ systems and is particularly useful in analysing complex operations and activities.
A HAZOP study should be led by an experienced facilitator as part of a structured team, with specific roles and is based around the use of ‘guide words’. It involves a structured and systematic examination of either a planned or existing operation, in order to identify and evaluate problems that may represent risks to employees and others who may be affected by the work.
The purpose of a HAZOP is to assess the hazard potential of any operation outside the design intention or the likelihood of potential malfunction of individual items of equipment and their consequential effects on the facility as a whole.