Article by Conor Crowley

Believe it or not, the role of HAZOP scribe has much to offer up-and-coming chemical engineers

IT’S NOT uncommon for engineers to end up as HAZOP scribes early in their career. Far from being a straightforward secretarial functional activity, at Atkins we believe that it’s a very important role for a chemical engineer to do, and also very important that the scribe is an engineer, and able to contribute to the meeting. I spoke to a few members of our team of scribes.

Q: We believe that the scribe is one of the most critical roles in a HAZOP, but it is often overlooked. How would you describe the role to someone about to start it?

Aftab Ramzan (AR): I wouldn’t say scribes are overlooked – at times they get more praise than the facilitators! But to someone new, I would say, don’t underestimate your role. The scribe can keep the HAZOP moving, can save a lot of time by anticipating what’s coming next (and pre-populate upcoming entries), and keep the facilitator on track if they miss something. Once a scribe is more familiar with the way things are typically worded or written, they’ll be able to complete the record in a manner such that it requires little or no amendment from the facilitator.

Ailsa Munro (AM): Scribes have the very important role of capturing the discussion in the room and recording it in a clear and understandable manner. This would typically include recording the causes, consequences, effective safeguards, risk rankings and recommendations for each node reviewed during the HAZOP session. It can be a bit daunting to step into a room  full of engineers and have to type up the discussion on a screen in front of everyone, but, in my experience, the HAZOP team has always helped me when I don’t know exactly how to interpret something discussed. There are also other responsibilities that the scribe may have, such as: marking up nodes on P&IDs, making sure all required documents are available in the HAZOP room, pulling up P&IDs on the screen for quick reference, and writing up the end product – the HAZOP report!

Alison Thackeray (AT): As a scribe, it’s your responsibility to ensure the record is populated accurately and is detailed enough so that if someone needs to revisit the HAZOP they don’t need to ask questions. You need to be fully engaged, have a good understanding of the subject matter and be able to translate discussion within the room into causes, consequences, safeguards and standalone recommendations. You are also required to use your initiative to determine what discussion is vital to record and what just isn’t necessary. 

Don’t be afraid to ask someone to repeat a point, elaborate, or shout out a tag number. Ensure you are familiar with the risk ranking process and the client’s risk matrix in advance of the session. Make sure any documents you may need throughout the HAZOP are available in the room or saved on your laptop so you can display information on the screen, without delaying the process.

Article by Conor Crowley

IChemE Fellow and Process Safety Team Lead Aberdeen, Atkins

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