Hazard Analysis of an Autonomous Container Handling System: A Comparison of STPA and HAZOP Methods

Eetu Heikkilä (Corresponding Author), Timo Malm, Janne Sarsama, Risto Tiusanen, Toni Ahonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Increasing automation is a major trend in container terminals. In automated container handling systems, safety has been previously ensured by segregating the automated machinery from other traffic and workers moving on foot. Currently, further increases in flexibility are sought by developing autonomous systems that are capable of mixed-traffic operations without the need for separate operating areas. This increases the complexity of the systems and introduces new safety hazards. In addition to traditional hazard analysis methods, new approaches are needed to address the emergent risks related to autonomous operations. This paper studies the applicability of the STPA (system-theoretic process analysis) method in hazard analysis of an autonomous machine system. To support the evaluation, we define evaluation categories for comparison of the analysis methods. We also compare STPA with an established method, HAZOP (hazard and operability study). To perform the comparison, both STPA and HAZOP are applied to an autonomous container handling system concept. The study suggests that both STPA and HAZOP are well suited to support the development of autonomous machinery. However, we also highlight some notable differences in the methods, mostly related to the different underlying accident models that they utilise. HAZOP is an established method with tools and standards available. STPA, on the other hand, provides a well-defined syntax to ensure the analysis quality and a system modelling approach that supports the system development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-39
JournalScientific Journal of Gdynia Maritime University
Issue number125
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • hazard analysis
  • autonomous systems
  • safety engineering
  • STPA


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