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PT Notes

Choosing Scribes for PHA Studies

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.

The scribe or technical secretary for a process hazard analysis (PHA) study plays an important role. Under the guidance of the team leader they record PHA sessions and may draft the study report.

Many PHA team leaders act as their own scribe. Use of PHA recording software gives leaders a subtle but powerful form of control over the team. They can direct the team's attention to highlighted entries in the worksheet and readily display checklists and other documents. Of course, leaders who scribe should have reasonable keyboard skills and be comfortable with all the other responsibilities of leading studies so that scribing does not impair their performance as a leader.

Some PHA team leaders prefer to use a separate scribe. Ideally, scribes should be technically-oriented. They need a knowledge of processes in order to understand the discussions that occur during PHA studies. Also, they need to understand the process that is followed in performing a PHA study and be familiar with the technical terms and acronyms used. Sometimes, the role is filled by a junior engineer. Administrative personnel may be challenged by the role although administrative personnel with appropriate experience have acted successfully as scribes.

Scribes can help team leaders by noting suggestions made by team members and reminding the team leader, assisting with quality control checks, and managing checklists used in the study.

Requirements for scribes include:
  • Competency with PHA recording software, including both use of the software and knowledge of its capabilities.
  • Ability to establish a good working relationship with the team leader. A good scribe can be a helper, not just a recorder.
  • Sufficient skill to be able to start typing as soon as a team consensus emerges without waiting for instruction or dictation by the team leader. However, some team leaders prefer to instruct the scribe to make entries..
  • Ability to record studies without slowing the progress of the study or interfering with the creative flow of discussion.
 
Attributes of good scribes include:
  • Attention to detail
  • Responsiveness
  • Listening skills
  • Typing skills
  • Spelling / grammar skills
 
Guidelines should be provided for scribes to ensure they do not diminish the quality of studies:
  • Listen to the team leader and the team discussions.
  • Follow the team leader's instructions.
  • Respond only to directions from the team leader.
  • Do not make worksheet entries or edits unless directed to do so by the team leader.
  • Try to anticipate needed entries.
  • Capture key parts of the discussions.
  • Do not try to be the leader.
  • Attend PHA training before scribing, if possible.
  • Know and understand guidelines for worksheet entries.
  • Learn to use recording software.
  • Do not play with the recording software.
  • Do not move around the worksheet, project, or software unnecessarily.
 
Recording is the first responsibility of a scribe. Participation as a team member is a secondary responsibility. Individuals whose undivided attention is needed in the study should not be assigned the role of scribe.

To comment on this PT Note, click here.

For information on Primatech's PHA facilitation services, click here.

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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