One of the recurring problems in running hazard identification workshops is being faced by a group whose members are passively refusing to engage in the process.
A technique that I’ve found quite valuable in breaking participants out of that mindset is TRIZ, or the Theory of Solving Problems Creatively (teoriya resheniya izobretatelskikh zadatch).
The TRIZ technique was originally developed by Russian academicians and lends itself to hazard identification in the form of a ‘Reverse TRIZ’.
The basic technique is as follows.
1. Start with the objective e.g. “Minimise the risk of a plant gas leak and explosion”.
2. Reverse this objective e.g. “I want to increase the risk of a plant gas leak and explosion”
3. Then exaggerate/amplify the objective (hazard), e.g., “I want lots of gas leaks and when they occur big explosions!”
4. Finally ask the participants, “What resources do I need to achieve this objective”, some answers in this case might be:
- Lots of pipework joints
- Store lots of gas in the system
- Make sure that gas can leak into areas where it doesn’t disperse
- Ensure that there’s lot’s of maintenance… and so on.
The advantage of this technique is that it puts participants in a positive mind set about identifying potential hazards, because we have reversed the objective of the analysis.
Exaggerating gives participants ‘permission’ to give free reign to their imagination and be less worried about answers not sanctioned by the group or organisation.
As a result participants tend to identify hazards that they might otherwise have unconsciously censored in a more traditional analysis because of their foreknowledge of the systems design, e.g. we’ll naturally minimise piping joints during design so that’s ‘not’ a hazard…