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PT Notes

Terminology for PHA

PT Notes is a series of topical technical notes on process safety provided periodically by Primatech for your benefit. Please feel free to provide feedback.

There is confusion in the literature, and in usage by practitioners, on the meaning of terms used for different means of addressing process hazards. Terms such as hazard analysis, hazard evaluation, hazard survey, hazard identification, hazard review, process hazard analysis, process hazard and risk assessment, and hazard identification and risk analysis have been used, sometimes with overlapping or inconsistent meanings.

Recently, some practitioners have moved towards broadening the meaning of the term process hazard analysis (PHA) to include a variety of studies that address different aspects of the hazards of processes. Such a broadening in its meaning may have regulatory implications. There is a need for consistent usage of terms by practitioners.

In its Process Safety Management (PSM) standard, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) uses the term process hazard analysis to mean the identification, evaluation, and control of the hazards involved in a process. The standard requires the use of methods such as the Hazard and Operability (HAZOP) study.

Some companies now perform inherent safety reviews, safety culture surveys, and competence assessments to help manage process hazards. These topics are important, although they are not addressed by the current PSM standard. However, they should not be considered part of PHA. Adding to PHA studies more tasks that should be distinct activities impairs the ability of PHA to accomplish its primary intended purpose of identifying hazard scenarios for possible risk reduction.

This topic was addressed in a letter to the editor:

Terminology for process safety, security, and risk management, Process Safety Progress, Volume 33, Issue 4, pages 405-406, December, 2015.

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For information on certification of personnel in PHA, click here.

For information on a related software tool, click here.

Click on the links below for information on related training courses:

PHA for Team Leaders

Advanced PHA for Team Leaders

Managing Psychological and Human Aspects of PHA Facilitation

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