Instructions for What-If PHA Spreadsheet

Step-by-step instructions accompanied by screenshots for our What-IF PHA Automated Spreadsheet. See how your questions, scenarios, risk, and equipment are managed.

Guidelines for PHA

Develop a thorough, orderly, systematic approach for identifying, evaluating, and controlling potential hazards within a process involving potentially hazardous chemicals.

Ammonia Refrigeration PHA Question Set

Ammonia Process Question Set suitable for Refrigeration Systems and OSHA PSM and EPA Risk Management. Question set provided in Microsoft Excel Format.

Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) What-If Automated Excel Spreadsheet

Question, scenario, risk, and equipment management simplified by automated Excel spreadsheet. User configurable. Start documenting your PHA studies more quickly and efficiently. Pre-loaded with a library of popular What-If questions for the chemical and process industries. Purchases delivered to buyer via email.

Features:

  • Consistent framework to help improve the quality of your studies. View screenshots.
  • Simplified Import feature of What-If Question and Equipment Information requiring minimal instruction, configuration, or mouse-clicks.
  • Detailed equipment information (Tag No, EQPT Type, Area, and Process) is included in the Import feature.
  • Take advantage of Excel's built-in reporting capability and save your What-If study information to PDF, HTML, and Office file formats.
  • Organized Equipment and Question lookup data is stored within normalized Excel tables.
  • Intuitive Dropdown lists for associating Equipment Tags with Type, Area, and Process.
  • Manage an extensive list of What-If Questions via their Category and assigned EQPT Types.
  • Simplified selection of questions for a new or existing What-If by filtering on Question Category and/or EQPT Type. 
  • Convenient Dropdown lists for choosing Likelihood and Severity within the What-If study worksheets.
  • Automated Risk calculation via formula within the What-If study worksheets.
  • Integrity, trust, and protection from malware are ensured by our digitally signed VBA macro project.

What you get when you purchase:

  • 30 days free technical support via phone, email, or text. If the What-If spreadsheet becomes inoperable, contact us.
  • Complete access to the What-If spreadsheet's VBA code. You may customize the VBA code or re-use it within your own application. Your Excel guru may build on its model. 
  • Extensive Process Hazard Review document in HTML format. This is an excellent reference for your What-If study group.
  • Sample What-If PHA Questions in Excel format that were extracted from the Process Hazard Review document. This Excel file is useful for familiarizing yourself with the What-If spreadsheet's Import mechanism.
  • Risk Assessment Matrix document in Excel and PDF format. This is a handy copy of the default Risk worksheet within the What-If spreadsheet. It is useful as a template for a reference document within your What-If study group. 
  • Instructions in PDF format.

The included Process Hazard Review document is replete with questions encompassing:

Get employees home safely each day!

How do we do this? 

We minimize risk.

What is risk?

Risk is the possibility of losing something of value. Risk can also be defined as the intentional interaction with uncertainty. Uncertainty is a potential, unpredictable, and uncontrollable outcome; risk is a consequence of action taken despite uncertainty. 

Risk perception is the subjective judgment people make about the severity and probability of a risk and may vary person to person, and company to company. Any human endeavor carries some risk, but some are much riskier than others.

So where does IndustryDocs What-If Process Hazards Analysis (PHA) play a role in risk minimization at your facility?

What-If PHA provides a systematic approach for evaluating risk in your workplace with an easy-to-use spreadsheet approach that is populated by those employees that understand the operation and maintenance, known hazards of the commodities, and have knowledge of previous incidents.

Where do you begin?

You begin by gathering ALL information related to previous incidents. What has happened? Why did it happen? Were there injuries? What was done to prevent a recurrence? Have there been “like” incidents since?

And don’t forget near-misses…were there “almost tragedies” that by a stroke of luck or the quick actions by employees that averted major incidents? What about incidents where there were no injurues; however, were there thousands of dollars of waste or off-specification product?

One of the great benefits of a process hazards analysis is that the PHA team can dig into countless areas where the bottom line of an organization can be adversely impacted.  

Once previous incidents have been identified and reviewed, a true starting point to study hazards at your facility can begin.

The next step…Get organized

You may not realize it or truly understand the organization of your facility but nearly every facility has some straightforward levels of organization. This can be areas and resources such as the following:

  • Specified areas (basement, tankage, process, off sites, utility, shop, shipping and receiving, truck loading, rail loading, area 1, area 2, area 3, part warehouse, etc.)
  • Equipment list
  • Instrument list

The above simply touches on how facilities have been organized; some facilities are organized down to micro levels of minutiae and this type organization can favorably influence risk evaluation by allowing the PHA team to dig deep into the details. However, to fully support a comprehensive full review of hazards in a facility such detail is not required.

Quick Start with What-if PHA 

The most efficient way to begin the PHA process is to identify your physical areas of your facility then identify the equipment within each area. Next, place these data into a spreadsheet and use the Import Equipment feature within What-if PHA (see Lookup Tables; Import Equipment).

This list becomes “The Where and What you will be evaluating” for the entire PHA study. An inclusive list of AREAS and EQUIPMENT within the process is a must for any PHA! The software does a great job of allowing the user to populate a spreadsheet and performing an import.

Previous Incidents -- Once all areas and equipment have been organized, review this list against your account of previous incidents. From these previous incidents, devise a set of questions that cover each equipment item complete with a question and a scenario. As an example, based on a previous incident that resulted in an injury you would want to cover the following:

  • Question: Have the changes made as a result of the incident been fully implemented?
  • Consequence/Hazard: Changes requested from previous incident were not fully implemented thereby allowing a repeat of the previous accident.
  • Safeguards: Management funded all required changes; however, the training requirements have not been incorporated into the training curriculum.
  • Recommendation: Incorporate training into the curriculum.  

The above is an example and there are many more the team will most likely bring to the forefront. The object is to assure the actions accepted by management have all been implemented for all previous incidents since the most recent PHA.

What is the Master What-If Question Table?

The software provides a sampling of a set of questions that the user can either use or expand upon for their PHA study within the Master Question Table worksheet. For each question the user can apply a specific equipment type. Once the equipment reference has been made the user can use this as a library for present and future PHAs under the Select Questions worksheet. The Select Question worksheet allows the user to filter by a question category and equipment type; a feature that will add significantly to the management of a question set.

The What-If Matrix

Although the software provides an industry compatible risk ranking matrix, the user can customize this within the Risk Matrix worksheet. This section of the software is where the formula,

    Risk = Likelihood x Consequence 

is specified for the system to calculate risk for each What-If question. As an example, if we were to look at the risk of an airplane crash into the main process area of a facility we could say:

What is the likelihood of an airplane crash into our facility? The first question one might ask is, “How close is the facility to an approach path for an airport? Is this a commercial airport or a small airplane landing area? Has a plane crashed into the facility before? If the answers to the above are, no airport nearby, has never occurred, and the likelihood is deemed to be “Improbable” the software would assign the event a Value 1.

Next, we would look at consequence and completely erase the word likelihood out of the equation because consequence has NOTHING to do with the likelihood. Regardless, a crash into a facility would most likely be catastrophic. According to the consequence table the software would assign “Catastrophic” A.

The calculation for the over all risk would be 1A (likelihood X consequence). In summary the assessment value within the table provided classifies this as “Acceptable after review of the operation. Continued tracking and recorded action plans are required.”

This may require management to incorporate the crash of an airplane into the facility into their disaster recovery plan, which in most instances is a standard approach for most operators.

Load the software and begin your PHA?

Yes, a user can use the What-if Sample and begin by copying the workbook to a new name, erasing the contents, and begin. In fact, this may be the best way to get acclimated to the PHA process. You will soon see that all cells are unprotected; however, ensure the columns E, F, and G are preserved as this is the auto-population for the risk ranking. Otherwise, the user is free to remove and populate the worksheet as required.

Ad-hoc PHAs for review of new equipment, new process, new chemical, etc.?

The software is intended for regulation mandated hazards analysis; however, that said, it is an excellent tool for the evaluation of any change that a facility is looking at implementing. As an example, the management of change process can be embellished significantly if the proposed change includes a copy of the worksheet containing a small question set that includes the risk calculation. This would support government audits for showing the impact of the change per Process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals -- 29 CFR 1910.119(l)(1): 

The employer shall establish and implement written procedures to manage changes (except for "replacements in kind") to process chemicals, technology, equipment, and procedures; and, changes to facilities that affect a covered process.

Sample of included PHA questions:

  1. What if hazardous materials form vapor clouds in excess of exposure limits?
  2. What if materials form acutely toxic vapor clouds?
  3. What if materials form carcinogenic vapor clouds?
  4. What if materials form flammable vapor clouds?
  5. What if materials form combustible vapor clouds?
  6. What if hazardous shock-sensitive materials are subject to heat or shock?
  7. What if materials become unstable with age?
  8. What if pyrophoric materials are exposed to air or water?
  9. What if volatile materials are released in excess of specified law or regulation?
  10. What if hazardous reactions or decompositions develop due to improper storage?
  11. What if hazardous reactions or decompositions develop due to foreign materials?
  12. What if hazardous reactions or decompositions develop due to abnormal process conditions (temp, press, eg.)?
  13. What if hazardous reactions or decompositions develop due to abnormal flow rates?
  14. What if hazardous reactions or decompositions develop due to missing or misproportioned ingredients, reactants or catalysts?
  15. What if hazardous reactions or decompositions develop due to a reactive material being exposed to an incompatible material?
  16. What if mechanical failures cause a hazardous reaction or decomposition?
  17. What if improper operation causes a hazardous reaction or decomposition?
  18. What if sudden or gradual blockage or buildup in equipment causes a hazardous reaction or decomposition?
  19. What if overheating residual material in equipment causes a hazardous reaction or decomposition?
  20. What if utility failure causes a hazardous reaction or decomposition?
  21. What if equipment started out of sequence causes a hazardous reaction or decomposition?
  22. What if a runaway hazardous reaction occurs?
  23. What if quenching, shortstopping, dumping, or venting fail on an existing runaway reaction?
  24. What if rapid passivation or disposal of reactants if required?
  25. What if flow through one or more pathways stops in a heat-integrated unit and temperature becomes uncontrollable?
  26. What if a polymerization reaction gets out of control and there is an uncontrolled buildup of heat or pressure?
  27. What if inhibitors are missing or misproportioned in materials?
  28. What if inhibitor levels decrease rapidly due to improper storage temperature?
  29. What if inhibitors separate out of a material due to improper storage temperature?
  30. What if the oxygen level is incorrect as required by a particular inhibitor?
  31. What if vapors condense, forming polymers and blocking vents or flame arrestors?
  32. What if there is a failure of refrigeration or cryogenic systems for storage tank pressure reduction?
  33. What if potentially explosive dusts stored in large bins are ignited?
  34. What if large inventories of flammables stored inside buildings suffer a release or ignition?
  35. What if large inventories of toxics stored inside buildings suffer a release?
  36. What if there is a release of hazardous or toxic materials stored above their atmospheric?
  37. What if hazardous or toxic materials stored above their atmospheric are improperly handled?
  38. What if hazardous or toxic materials above their atmospheric are improperly stored?
  39. What if incompatible materials are stored in the same area and they come in contact?
  40. What if raw materials are improperly identified?
  41. What if raw materials may be easily mistaken for one another?
  42. What if raw material quality is not as expected?
  43. What if raw materials are contaminated with common materials such as water, air, rust, oil, cleaning agents, or metals?
  44. What if an extreme weather condition adversely affects a raw or process material?
  45. What if there is a failure to identify a hazardous material that could have been eliminated?
  46. What if there is failure to evaluate alternative processes with less toxic/reactive/flammable raw materials, intermediates, or by-products?
  47. What if hazardous material inventories are excessive?
  48. What if hazardous material storage tank sizes or quantities are excessive?
  49. What if processing equipment is not selected and designed for the minimization of hazardous material inventories?
  50. What if hazardous material (for example, chlorine) is not minimized due to a feed unnecessarily in the form of a liquid instead of a gas?
  51. What if processing equipment is not selected and designed for the elimination of hazardous intermediates?
  52. What if process steps have not been examined for a reduction in complexity and the number of vessels, feed streams, utilities, and auxiliary systems?
  53. What if the process in not being performed under the safest possible conditions?
  54. What if the supply pressure of raw materials is unnecessarily above the working pressure of the vessels receiving them?
  55. What if reaction conditions (e.g., temperature, pressure) are unnecessarily severe due to the use of a less than ideal catalyst or lack of recycle flows to compensate for lower yields?
  56. What if hazardous wastes are not minimized?
  57. What if waste streams are not recycled?
  58. What if all solvents, diluents, or “carriers” are not recycled?
  59. What if use of solvents, diluents, or “carriers” is not minimized?
  60. What if useful by-products are not recovered from waste streams? 
  61. What if hazardous byproducts are not extracted to reduce the overall volume of hazardous waste?
  62. What if washing operations are not optimized to reduce the volume of wastewater?
  63. What if hazardous wastes are not segregated from non-hazardous wastes?
  64. What if materials of construction are not compatible with the process materials involved?
  65. What if changes have been made in process equipment or operating parameters since the previous safety review?
  66. What if changes have occurred in the composition of raw materials, intermediates, or products since the previous safety review?
  67. What if the size of relief and flare systems is inadequate in view of process changes since the last hazard evaluation?
  68. What if the size of vents and drains is inadequate in view of process changes since the last hazard evaluation?
  69. What if the size of other process equipment is inadequate in view of process changes since the last hazard evaluation?
  70. What if safety margins have been narrowed by design or operating changes (e.g., to reduce cost, increase capacity, improve quality, or change products)?
  71. What if hazards are created by the loss of each feed, and by simultaneous loss of two or more feeds?
  72. What if hazards result from loss of electricity?
  73. What if hazards result from loss of cooling water?
  74. What if hazards result from loss of high, medium, or low pressure steam?
  75. What if hazards result from loss of refrigerant/brine?
  76. What if hazards result from loss of instrument air?
  77. What if hazards result from loss of instrument electric power?
  78. What if hazards result from loss of process water?
  79. What if hazards result from loss of inert gas?
  80. What if hazards result from loss of deionized water?
  81. What if hazards result from loss of fuel gas/oil gas?
  82. What if hazards result from loss of ventilation?
  83. What if hazards result from loss of natural gas pilot?
  84. What if hazards result from loss of process drain sewer?
  85. What if hazards result from loss of two or more utilities?
  86. What if the most severe credible incident occurs as a reasonable combination of utility losses?
  87. What if an external fire creates hazardous internal process conditions?
  88. What if the facility and company have limited experience with the process?
  89. What if the facility and company have limited experience with the process and there is not substantial industry experience?
  90. What if the company is not a member of industry groups that share experience with particular chemicals or processes?
  91. What if the unit is critical to overall facility operations?
  92. What if shutdown of this unit requires other units to be shut down as well?
  93. What if the unit is located; so that, intra-site transportation of hazardous materials is not minimized?
  94. What if the unit is located; so that, off-site transportation of hazardous materials is not minimized?
  95. What if the unit poses hazards to the workers in the control room or adjacent units from toxic, corrosive, or flammable sprays, fumes, mists, or vapors? 
  96. What if the unit poses hazards to the public or to workers in nearby office or shop areas from toxic, corrosive, or flammable sprays, fumes, mists, or vapors? 
  97. What if the unit poses hazards to the workers in the control room or adjacent units from thermal radiation from fires (including flares)?
  98. What if the unit poses hazards to the public or to workers in nearby office or shop areas from thermal radiation from fires (including flares)?
  99. What if the unit poses hazards to the workers in the control room or adjacent units from overpressure from explosions?
  100. What if the unit poses hazards to the public or to workers in nearby office or shop areas from overpressure from explosions?

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