solutions plant 530h

What-If and Checklist Reviews are essential analytical tools used in the process industry to evaluate potential risks and ensure safe operations. The What-If Review is a brainstorming technique where a team of experts considers a range of ‘what-if’ scenarios that could potentially occur in a process or facility. This method involves asking hypothetical questions about various aspects of the process, such as equipment failure, human error, or external events, to identify potential hazards. The team then assesses the likelihood and possible consequences of these scenarios, allowing for the identification of risks that may not be evident in routine operations. This flexible and imaginative approach is particularly useful in early design stages or when modifying existing processes, as it helps anticipate a wide range of potential issues.

Checklist Reviews, on the other hand, are more structured. They involve using pre-defined lists of questions or considerations that are known to be relevant to process safety. These checklists are typically based on industry standards, best practices, and lessons learned from past incidents. The process involves systematically going through the checklist to evaluate various components and aspects of the process or facility against established safety criteria. This method ensures that no critical elements are overlooked and that all necessary safety measures are considered. Checklist Reviews are particularly effective for routine assessments and for ensuring compliance with regulatory standards and industry best practices.

Both What-If and Checklist Reviews are invaluable in the proactive management of process safety. They provide different but complementary approaches to hazard identification and risk assessment. While the What-If method allows for creative and broad-ranging exploration of potential risks, the Checklist approach provides a more methodical and comprehensive review. When used together, these techniques provide a robust framework for identifying and mitigating risks, ultimately enhancing the safety and reliability of operations in the process industry. They help in building a culture of safety and awareness, where risks are not only recognized but systematically managed and mitigated.

Implementing What-If and Checklist Reviews includes:

Assemble a Diverse Team: Gather a multidisciplinary team with expertise in different aspects of the process, including engineering, operations, maintenance, and safety.

Define Scope and Objectives: Clearly establish the scope of the review, including specific processes or areas to be assessed, and define the objectives to ensure focused and relevant discussions.

Develop or Select Checklists: For Checklist Reviews, develop or select appropriate checklists based on industry standards, best practices, and specific process characteristics.

Conduct What-If Sessions: Facilitate What-If sessions where team members brainstorm and discuss potential ‘what-if’ scenarios, considering various types of failures, human errors, and external factors.

Evaluate Risks and Consequences: For each ‘what-if’ scenario and checklist item, assess the potential risks and consequences, considering both the likelihood and severity of possible events.

Identify Existing Safeguards: Identify and evaluate the effectiveness of existing safety measures and controls in place for each identified risk.

Determine Additional Safeguards: Where existing safeguards are inadequate, recommend additional safety measures or improvements to reduce risks to acceptable levels.

Document Findings and Recommendations: Accurately document all discussed scenarios, identified risks, existing safeguards, and recommendations for improvements.

Develop Action Plans: Create detailed action plans for implementing the recommended safety measures, assigning responsibilities and setting timelines.

Review and Update: Regularly review and update the What-If scenarios and Checklists to reflect changes in processes, technologies, regulations, or findings from incident investigations.

Conduct Training and Awareness: Provide training and raise awareness among relevant personnel about the findings and any new safety measures implemented.

Monitor and Follow-up: Monitor the implementation of recommendations and conduct follow-up reviews to ensure ongoing effectiveness and compliance.

Why perform What-If and Checklist Reviews

Performing What-If and Checklist Reviews is a proactive approach to identifying and managing potential hazards and risks. These methods facilitate a thorough examination of process safety systems, encouraging teams to think creatively and critically about various hypothetical scenarios and their potential impacts. What-If Reviews allow for the exploration of a broad range of possibilities, including equipment failures, operational errors, and external events, thus uncovering risks that might not be immediately apparent. Checklist Reviews complement this by providing a structured and systematic assessment against established safety criteria and best practices. Together, they ensure a comprehensive evaluation of safety measures, helping to prevent accidents and incidents. Conducting these reviews is crucial for maintaining compliance with industry standards, enhancing the overall safety culture, and ensuring the continuous improvement of safety management systems in the process industry.

Why Work with Prime Process Safety Center

  • Expertise in Process Safety: Our team possesses deep expertise in process safety, ensuring thorough and effective What-If and Checklist Reviews tailored to industry standards.
  • Experienced Facilitation: We have experienced professionals skilled in facilitating What-If sessions, encouraging comprehensive discussions and critical thinking.
  • Customized Checklists: We develop and utilize customized checklists that align with your specific processes and industry requirements, ensuring a comprehensive review.
  • Systematic Approach: Our approach to What-If and Checklist Reviews is systematic and structured, ensuring all potential hazards and risks are identified and assessed.
  • Broad Perspective Analysis: Our team brings a broad perspective, considering a wide range of potential scenarios, including less obvious risks that could impact safety.
  • Detailed Documentation: We provide detailed documentation of the review process, findings, and recommendations, facilitating clear action plans for risk mitigation.
  • Actionable Recommendations: Our reviews result in actionable recommendations for enhancing safety measures and complying with regulatory standards.
  • Continuous Improvement Focus: We emphasize continuous improvement, helping your organization to not only identify current risks but also to develop strategies for ongoing safety management.
  • Regulatory Compliance Expertise: Our team stays updated on the latest regulations and industry best practices, ensuring your compliance and enhancing safety protocols.
  • Training and Support: We offer training and support based on the outcomes of the reviews, enhancing your team’s understanding and implementation of recommended safety measures.


1. What are What-If and Checklist Reviews?

These are structured risk assessment techniques used to identify and analyze potential hazards in industrial processes. What-If Reviews involve brainstorming potential hazardous scenarios, while Checklist Reviews use predefined lists of questions to assess safety.

2. Why are What-If and Checklist Reviews important in process safety?

They are critical for identifying potential risks and ensuring that all aspects of process safety are considered, helping to prevent accidents and ensure compliance with safety regulations.

3. How often should What-If and Checklist Reviews be conducted?

Regular reviews are recommended, typically annually, or whenever there are significant changes to processes, equipment, or regulations.

4. Who should be involved in these reviews?

A multidisciplinary team including process engineers, safety professionals, and operational staff should be involved to provide diverse perspectives and expertise.

5. What kind of training is required for conducting these reviews?

Personnel should be trained in risk assessment techniques, process safety management, and specific procedures relevant to the industry.

6. How do What-If Reviews differ from Checklist Reviews?

What-If Reviews are more open-ended and brainstorming-based, while Checklist Reviews are structured and based on specific pre-defined criteria.

7. Can these reviews be used for regulatory compliance?

Yes, they help in identifying potential non-compliances with safety regulations and standards, aiding in maintaining regulatory compliance.

8. What is the role of a facilitator in these reviews?

A facilitator guides the review process, ensures that all relevant hazards are considered, and that discussions stay focused and productive.

9. How are the findings from these reviews documented?

Findings are typically documented in detailed reports outlining identified hazards, risk levels, and recommended mitigation measures.

10. Can What-If and Checklist Reviews be integrated with other risk assessment methods?

Yes, they are often used in conjunction with other methods like HAZOP for a more comprehensive risk assessment.