• Julie Healey
    Hi all - I am looking for some suggestions for managing SOP reviews - our current system is okay but not efficient, in other words managed by the H&S seat. We have three different sites with five different managers all working in/on different aspects of the business.
    I am conscious of not lumping more tasks onto managers but see no other way of getting that crucial information delivered and reviewed. Currently, we have 87 SOPs! and manage our own H&S database.
  • Robb

    Are your SOPs "Safe" or "Standard" Operating Procedures?
    There is a distinct difference between them, and (sometimes) until that difference is fully understood, a standard operating procedure transforms into a safe operating procedure. In turn, this misunderstanding leads to a plethora of procedures.

    A safe operating procedure is a set of mandatory guidelines designed to prevent hazards, while a standard operating procedure is a collection of best practices for improving efficiency or quality.

    Safe operating procedures are mandatory and focus on avoiding potential risks, whereas standard operating procedures are not always mandatory and are less specific.

    Safe operating procedures may include the standard procedures for tools and equipment used in a task.

    Sorry, I probably haven't answered your question outright, but maybe a review of the number of SOPs will help answer your question.
  • James

    It's difficult to make suggestions without knowing more details of the sites and processes.

    A few general ideas to reduce the number of SOPs or the size/details are:
    1) Are there any identical or near-identical machines and/or processes? They could be lumped into one common SOP with a site-specific section for any unique differences
    2) As Robb mentioned, Safe vs Standard Operating Procedures. If there is common material handling across sites/processes (e.g. chemicals or tools or metal) a SOP for the material could be used with machine or task-specific SOP referencing the material SOP.
  • Kim Gott
    Ours are managed by the H&S committee which is made up of management, supervisors, crew and admin staff. We have them on a roster to be discussed, and then if there is any relevant changes that need to be made, it is done that day.
  • Craig Carlyle
    Lots of good suggestions there. Here is some we have used for many years.: Rule 1. Writing a S (Safety)0 OP must fit on one page. Rule 2. The SOP should be written by the potential victim (good culture change agent there!. Rule 3 The SOP should only take 15 minutes to write.

    Sure, this maxim is not going to fit every time but it sure cuts most of the traditional gobbly gook and virtue signaling off, resulting in a concise document that addresses the risks and controls and is relevant to the worker. We have seen teutonic SOP's written by downwardly driven ISO/QA/HS based people that pose a danger of falling asleep!

    The other topic to address is how often a worker should be retrained. Our view is that management must make their own call on this, and for many situations the frequency will move with the workers service, (up to a maximum point). We have 25 years of experience writing SOP's for hundreds of clients. I hope these little pearls help. Good luck.
  • Mike Massaar
    We have a similar number of SOPs and realised some time ago that when you get than number they stop getting read. So as well as having a good document review system, also try and get them down to no more than one page SOPs consisting of mandatory controls, if necessary supported by a larger 'technical document.' Works well for us and engagement improved considerably.
    Also nothing wrong with having an SOP on how to write a good SOP.
  • Stuart Oakey
    How do you manage your business documentation overall? Do you have a defined review process?
    Rather than looking at the definition of SOP as Safety versus Standard, what are your Safety Critical documents? This would help define critical document reviews. One school of though is that a regularly use procedure is actually reviewed each time it is used, but the important thing is that the people who use the procedure are included in its development and review.
    I can recall a particular chemical unloading procedure that was in Rev 14 within a year of issue, because everyone had an opinion and kept making what in fact were minor changes that didn't warrant an actual Revision changed. The issue was an engineer wrote the procedure without consulting the operators who actually did the work.
  • Julie Healey

    Thanks Mike that all makes sense - we do try and keep them to one page so having a supporting doc could work - who makes the decision on when to use the supporting doc?
  • Julie Healey

    Hi Stuart - thanks for you comments - our SOP,s are SAFE OP,s.

    Defined review process - Yes we do however it is way overdue for review hence not being effective. I need to get things moving so we have process that everyone can follow. Getting all managers to agree on the same process another matter.

    Currently the guys that the SOP,s are designed for don't have much input into managing or development. When a workshop covers off an SOP (for compliance) at a toolbox meeting the audience can vary in terms of great info or thinking about what they will do post 3.30 when they get home, I can see the value in guys having more input as you said above. SOP,s are generally delivered by leading hands or supervisors and it is a rear occasion where I have been asked to update details.
  • Mike Massaar
    Myself, as the Health & Safety Manager
  • Johan Venter
    Hi Julie, here's a rundown of the system. Firstly you only need a standard operating procedure, which must include a JSA for work that is hazardous. Since hazards change, you don't want to update your procedures all the time, you only need to perform a JSA.
    Secondly, the process of changing company systems is the resonsibility of your Quality Dept and they should be managing it. The easiest and best way to do this is to check with the Quality Manager to see if a Document Change Procedure (or similar) exist, and if so, take a look at how easy it will be to follow. What MUST be done first is to look at the who the reviewers are and what their interest would be (don't send a SOP for review by the bussiness delopment manager!). For work and HSE purposes, that should be the site/shop manager (who must discuss the procedure with his team and get their buy-in!). The site/shop manager and the team should write the steps of the procedure, and only records that are required to audit the SOP should be included.
    Thirdly, for the Document Change Procedure, the fist sign-off is by the site/shop manager once he/she is happy with it.
    Fourthly, YOU are responsible for making sure that the SOP adequately addresses HSE (like a JSA/Permit and their review cycles). If you're happy that HSE has been covered, then you are the second sign-off. Your sign-off will require you to talk to the site/shop manager and his/her staff to make sure that the SOP consultation was followed and everyone's happy.
    Fithly, the Quality manager checks that the change procedure was correctly followed and then sign off. No further reviewers are required, since you must have confidence that your management and staff are competent to do their work or is properly supervised.
    Once the quality manager has signed-off, you issue the procedure for execution/implementation, to the site/shop manager, with copies to (only) the interested stakeholders, for information.
    ALSO, remember that the quality manager is the gatekeeper of all systems (plans, processes, procedures, standard forms, etc.), so it is very important that the quality manager consults other managers to determine who the responsible reviewers should be, and that the Document Change Procedure delivers only what is necessary (which can include different reviewers for different procedures)! The SOPs and the DCP is are not sales documents and must not include ANY frills or nice-to-haves. Always ask yourself how you can audit some step or requirement in the SOP, and if you cannot audit it, leave it out because it's not required.
    The MOST important cogs in this machine, are the people who have to execute the SOP, and that they are happy with it, otherwise the human condition kicks in and the shortcuts start.
    Another guideline which is good industry practice, is to define the roles and responsibilities for the site/shop manager, supervisors/foremen and the person doing the job (in an appendix). Now, don't confuse JSAs with the SOPs, the R&R should not take into account every person that might have to use the SOP, only that HSE and primary tasks are addressed.
    Hope that helps.
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