What if Analysis

What if Analysis

What will happen if toxic gases leak into a liquid pipeline? What if tank feed is increased or decreased? Such questions can be critical in reducing or eliminating risks to people working in an industrial environment.

A What-if Analysis consists of structured brainstorming to determine what can go wrong in a given scenario; then judge the likelihood and consequences that things will go wrong.

What-if Analysis can be applied at virtually any point in the laboratory evaluation process.

Based on the answers to what-if questions, informed judgments can be made concerning the acceptability of those risks. A course of action can be outlined for risks deemed unacceptable.This is a powerful technique if the staff is experienced; otherwise, the results are likely to be incomplete

What if Analysis methodology

Baseline Data Development

  • Establish Requirements
  • Develop Activity Definition
  • Characterize systems and facilities

Process Hazard Screening

  • Use Comprehensive checklists
  • Apply to each Operation/System/Facility
  • Identify Applicable Hazards

Perform Hazard Analysis

  • Develop Hazard Analysis Tables
  • Identify important controls
  • Perform Preliminary Ranking of Controls
  • Select Accidents for Further Analysis

Perform Design Basis Accident Analysis

  • Performance Probabilistic and Deterministic Analysis of Selected Accidents
  • Quantify Frequency and Accidents
  • Identification of Most Significant Controls

Develop Controls and Complete Documentation


  • Easy to use
  • No specialized tools needed
  • People with little hazard analysis experience can participate meaningfully
  • Leads to deeper insight, especially for person/people conducting the analysis


  • Only useful if you ask the right questions
  • Relies on intuition of team members
  • More subjective than other methods
  • Greater potential for reviewer bias
  • More difficult to translate results into convincing arguments for change