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Does a PHA scribe require a technical background?


Being a PHA Scribe is not just about fast typing skills. You need to have the ability to follow along, think ahead, and fill in the details that the PHA team isn’t explicitly saying. Unless of course, you have plenty of time and want to everything dictated to you.

Work starts as soon as the technical drawings are received. The process is split into nodes based on the process streams and associated equipment. You need to understand the process and what the drawings are telling you so that you can separate the nodes accordingly. This understanding of the process carries into the PHA session. You need to be able to understand the sequence of events that could lead to a hazardous consequence. It is easy to jump right to a leak or even a fire without recording the correct order of events. You need to understand that that leak was caused by an overpressure of the vessel, which was caused by liquid carryover from the downstream vessel and so on, all while recording the proper equipment tags.

The team could dictate every word and every equipment tag for you, but wouldn’t it be so much nicer if you could use my technical understanding and experience to fill in the gaps? It sure makes the PHA session run a lot smoother.

PHA scribes support the facilitator. They work together as a team to fill in the blanks and ensure that they have asked all the right questions to get the team to brainstorm as many credible causes as possible. They use their engineering background to help each other understand new processes, and every so often they correct each other’s mistakes.

“Scribing” for PHA studies is an excellent opportunity for junior engineers. They are exposed to many different processes, different operating companies, and different “styles” of engineered drawings.