Creating a live link between HAZOPs and LOPA: 3 key benefits of using safety case LOPA software
A safety case often follows a natural progression from hazard study (HAZOP) to layers of protection analysis (LOPA). What is missing is a real live link between your HAZOP work and the LOPA that follows.
This is a fairly important link if you’re developing safety case LOPA. If you’re building a living safety case, having a live and direct link between your HAZOP and LOPA is critical.
The typical breakdown looks something like this:
The development of the safety case LOPA involves a switch from qualitative analysis over to semi-quantitative or quantitative risk analysis (SQRA or QRA). It’s fairly common to take each hazard item from the HAZOP over manually into LOPA. There are many software and other tools that assist with SQRA/QRA.
A safety case software solution like Meercat RiskView provides a direct, live link between the HAZOP and safety case LOPA. This has three key benefits:
- Time and productivity savings from automatic transfer
- Visibility and record-keeping of the whole exercise
- Direct and live link between HAZOP and LOPA.
How does it work?
Hazard studies in RiskView are structured to maximise opportunities for leveraging data. The HAZOP creation tool within the safety case software allows you to import data from existing sources, such as spreadsheets or past studies in RiskView. The HAZOP tool captures all the data associated with the HAZOP, including:
- Deviations (generated from guidewords, parameters and nodes)
- Causes (threats) and their likelihood
- Consequences, their category and severity
- Initial risk level
- Current risk controls
- Mitigated risk level and risk response (tolerable/intolerable)
- Actions created, progressed and completed (e.g. research or validation)
- Participant register for each day
RiskView can automatically generate safety case LOPA diagrams from HAZOP items. The LOPA tool will pull all the inputted information about deviations, likelihoods, controls and so on. You then have a pre-populated LOPA diagram which is ready for more detailed examination. RiskView shortens the transfer process and allows you to progress directly into SQRA of the major accident events you’ve identified.
Time and productivity savings
Taking this approach to safety case development has some clear benefits in time saving. Data is captured in the HAZOP (and can be entered by the scribe during the exercise), with no additional formatting required to finish the exercise. All the information can be easily accessed, presented and exported in report format.
Developing safety case LOPA diagrams from the HAZOP is the biggest source of improved efficiency. Rather than transferring items across manually and plotting out the known data points, you can automatically generate the diagram from your HAZOP.
More importantly, the LOPA tool in RiskView does more than just create a diagram. It is a powerful risk analysis tool. RiskView can automatically convert your qualitative risk analysis to semi-quantitative risk analysis (based on the risk matrix you customise). The LOPA diagrams in RiskView are presented in bowtie format, with line thickness denoting strength of causality. Risk controls can be configured to different methods of risk reduction (including IPL, RRF and other methods). This gives you the ability to analyse the threat lines and easily see the risk pathway.
This allows you to condense the safety case development cycle down considerably. Your HAZOP can be created, populated and formatted as a report in less than one day. Using RiskView’s automatic bowtie creation tool, there is no downtime while the HAZOP items are taken across to LOPA. You can dive straight into LOPA the next day (or even the same day).
This is a productivity gain, not just a time saving. Your safety case development team is warmed up and has the risks fresh in their minds immediately after the HAZOP. Being able to move straight into detailed SQRA makes the most of this freshness. The team is more efficient and focused. This advantage is lost if there is a time gap between the HAZOP and LOPA.
Visibility and reporting
Beyond time and productivity, RiskView creates opportunities for better visibility and reporting during the safety case development cycle. The HAZOP tool’s data entry interface is visually accessible and can be customised to suit your team’s preferences. This makes the exercise more open to engagement from the HAZOP team.
Capturing the data in RiskView also helps with the presentation and reporting of HAZOP data. Unlike spreadsheets, RiskView understands the links between different fields, and so can intelligently display data in logical orders. Customised perspectives can easily be set up to suit different situations. The HAZOP report format is ideal for summarising the activity, and takes only a few seconds to generate the report. The HAZOP report includes data such as participant register and study actions automatically. The reports can also be exported in various formats for further editing.
The safety case LOPA module in RiskView makes a significant difference in team engagement because of the visually accessible nature of the study. Unlike many conventional LOPA tools, RiskView presents the LOPA as a bowtie with line thickness showing causality. Higher-order values of likelihood and severity are highlighted in bold colours. This gives you a very clear, visually accessible (and understandable) representation of the LOPA that anyone can understand. Less-experienced members of the team can easily understand the visual links between items in the LOPA, and are more likely to learn and deepen their understanding of the process.
The LOPA tool is fully customisable: everything including the fields displayed, colours, terminology and format. The underlying calculations and risk matrix are also fully customisable. This allows the safety case team to take ownership of the study and easily see the direct links between the safety case LOPA and their daily work.
Direct and live link
The most significant benefit of the RiskView safety case software solution is the direct link created between HAZOP and LOPA. The hazard study and risk analysis are not just sub-processes in sequence in the overall safety case development cycle. They are living objects within the ecosystem of process safety.
The reason for this is that HAZOPs are rarely created in isolation and rarely done only once. If the safety case proceeds with no issues and no changes over the life of the facility, the HAZOP will be repeated with every safety case renewal (typically around 5 years). It is more common for the HAZOP to be revisited sooner than that, due to changes in plant or methods.
In this case, the HAZOP is a point-in-time hazard study that has relevance beyond that point in time. For example, the HAZOP is a reference point for the operators working in that section of plant on a daily basis. When the HAZOP needs to be revised, the old HAZOP becomes a touch-point for developing the new risk assessment. The same is true for LOPA.
From this perspective, the HAZOP and LOPA are inextricably linked because of the way that they inform each other. While the initial HAZOP will progress to LOPA, the HAZOP will be revisited in the future using the intelligence gleaned from the LOPA and frontline experience. The revised HAZOP will then feed into revised LOPA.
Having a direct, living link between HAZOP and LOPA in your safety case software is important. If revising a HAZOP means manually revisiting the study, and manually creating new LOPA, a lot of the benefit of past experience is lost. The HAZOP team has limited time in which to complete the exercise, and they are far less likely to draw on past work and lessons learned if this information has to be drawn in manually.
A safety case software solution like RiskView maximises the opportunities for leveraging this hard-won corporate knowledge. The existing HAZOP and LOPA feed back into the new HAZOP study, which feeds into new LOPA. Through an iterative cycle, the organisation grows and matures in its understanding of risk.
RiskView also enables the safety cases of different facilities to be drawn into the same online platform, meaning that the safety case team for one facility can benefit from the past work and experience of other facilities.
This takes the whole safety case cycle from being a series of point-in-time studies, towards being a living safety case system.
With these three benefits coming from linking HAZOPs to safety case LOPA software, building a living safety case system is more attainable than ever.