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  • Writer's pictureThomas Solberg Fylking | Principal Consultant

How to get the most out of online risk assessment workshops

Updated: Jun 12, 2023

As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, ORS has facilitated multiple online multidisciplinary risk assessment workshops, such as HAZOP, HAZID, LOPA and FMECA. Careful planning and execution is a key for efficient and value creating online workshops. Here are some practical advice on how to get the most out of online risk assessment workshops.

Planning :

- Duration of online workshops should be reduced to ensure that participants remain focused. A maximum of 5 hour sessions per day is recommended, with frequent breaks;

- The number of participants should be minimized, and disciplines outside the core team should be on call during the session;

- For workshops including nodes (such as HAZOPs), each node, i.e. subsystem, reviewed should be minimized to avoid unnecessary scrolling.

- A clear and concise Terms of Reference (ToR) becomes even more important, to ensure:

  • A clear Agenda;

  • A precise definition of the objectives and scope of the review;

  • A clear definition of the basis documentation for the review to ensure all participants have access to these (all team members need to have access to all relevant documentation).


- A rule set should be established for an effective meeting. Some examples:

  • Prepare and do the homework. Read the terms of reference and other relevant documents;

  • Make sure that you have proper internet connection;

  • Use an external screen to see the drawings and other documents properly;

  • Do not multi-task, focus on the complex subject matters we need to evaluate during the workshop time;

  • Use a proper headset. Do not underestimate the importance of sound quality;

  • Keep the microphone muted when not talking;

  • Be specific, to-the-point, only addressing the discussion point, the guideword and the part of the system which is evaluated;

  • If the point to be discussed requires review/display of other documents, clearly define which document to be brought up.

- When running an online-workshop, it is an advantage if participants attend via individual lines, rather than having parts of the participants in a meeting room;

- A communication platform allowing meeting facilitator to see who is speaking is evident for effective communication. Microsoft Teams has proven to be effective for multiple applications;

- Facilitator needs to familiarize with names and key skills of all participants prior to workshop, in order to address questions directly, as it may be more effective than open questions;

- Chat function can be used by all participants to address and highlight fact-based insights. This functionality could provide added value not possible in physical workshops, if used correctly;

- Some communication platforms (such as Teams) allow for more than one participant controlling a mouse pointer simultaneously. This advantage should be used by the facilitator allowing the system responsible engineer control to point to specific places on the shared documentation when relevant.

Online workshops become even more relevant when they are used as review and validation workshops of desktop studies performed up front. I.e. for several types of workshops (such as LOPAs and FMECAs), the facilitator and responsible engineer can prepare as much as possible up front through a smaller desktop review and use the main workshop to review and validate this.

Experience shows that careful planning gives effective online workshops. Multidisciplinary workshops with physical gatherings are highly valuable and the recommended way of conducting workshops. However, having the capability to execute risk assessments by online workshops will give increased flexibility and resilience to all stakeholders. Furthermore, it will save travelling time, reduce the risks associated with travelling as well as the environmental footprint.

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