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Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Posted by Andy Perry on 28 August 2018

Following on from my previous Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) Blog in July. The next logical process would be for an organisation to develop a safe work instruction for routine work activities.

Generally, these documents have different names, such as safe work instructions (SWI), safe or standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Standard operating procedures or work method statements are step-by step instructions to carry out the activity or task. They should be designed to discourage the workers taking risky short cuts. These instructions should be written in plain English and I would strongly recommend including pictures (a picture means a thousand words) with the ever-growing culture diversity within the work force.

In addition, these documents may be able to demonstrate that an organisation and/or an individual has provided information, training and instruction in a way that is readily understandable by any person to whom it is provided that is described in the applicable WHS Regulations.

Standard operating procedures should be developed by interested parties, including:

  • Experience workers who carry out the activity or have the technical knowledge;
  • Managers or supervisors for the work area;
  • Safety managers or advisors; and
  • Health and safety representatives, if applicable.

By having a range of personnel developing these documents there is generally more ownership with enforcing and adhering to these procedures. With any new SOP or work instruction developed some new hazards may be identified by including key personnel. Furthermore, instructions and procedures should be reviewed:

  • When an incident occurs;
  • A work process or method is changed;
  • A job process is changed; or
  • A risk control measure changes.

Generally, organisations have processes for the implementation and control of planned temporary and permanent change that may impact health, safety and wellbeing of workers. This is known as Management of Change.

HAZCON has developed many safe work instructions or standard operating procedures for organisation that involves the key stakeholders during the process with sound results.

Author: Andy Perry
Tags: Andy Perry

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