SOP’s

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) are the final tool of both the safety practicioner and the operator, in their duty to fulfil the requirements of the Safety, Health & Welfare at Work Act, 2005..

SOP,s once correctly constructed, can give the user of machinery or any service provider, a valuable added value tool at their disposal.

Over the last few years we have found that by commencing the construction of an SOP in parallel with the risk assessments of a machine assembly, particularly if that assembly is anew build or where an existing assembly has been materially modified, can provide invaluable tools for the designer and the user, not the least of which is that such tandem works can often identify impracticable operating or maintenance requirements , thereby, allowing further assessments to develop a more practical, yet a compliant solution.

Implementation
J. G. Munro & Associates can assist companies construct and  implement  Standard Operating Procedures, or, where required carry out training workshops to assist users in the development of pragmatic and practicable solutions.

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There are various templates available for SOP’s, however, whichever type is chosen, the user should ensure that they remain with that format for the foreseeable future as the foundation for SOP’s is the continuity of practice, even long after the initiator has perhaps moved on. The fundementals should stil exist and be pertinent to the task at hand. All too often, as technology advances, we tend to remain with the old technoques, therefore any SOP MUST be capable of maintaining pace with current operational and engineering technology.

Some of the most common headings within SOP’s should include;

  1. PURPOSE.
    It is important at the outset, to establish exactly what the SOP is actually doing, remember, the reader may not have the advantage of the authors knowledge, indeed the task may be some intended action in the future, when the original authors are not available, or the SOP may be constructed by the manufacturer of a product, intended for exportation to a user located in an environment with no easy access to your knowledge and therefore the SOP will provide details required to operate or carry out some task in a safe manner.
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  2. SCOPE.
    Establish the total scope of the SOP. What are the limits you are establishing, e.g, if its the initial start-up of a new machine assembly, you may have to consider the installation and initial setting up of the equipment, which would include the lifting and securing of the machinery into a secured position, along with the necessary mode programming, etc. On the other hand you may be involved with the safe anaesthesia of a wild animal by “darting” and have to then convey the animal to and from a veterinary operation, including the operation itself, equipment supply, redundancy factors of the equipment and the safe re-suscitation of the animal within a secure environment.
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  3. DEFINITIONS.
    Definitions, in our opinion, are vital for the continued safe operation and understanding of the machine or process. One mans carpet may be another mans floor covering, both apparently carrying out the same design function, however, both actually carrying out a totally different safety or operational function.. Do not rely upon what you may consider the obvious purpose of a component or the obvious next action to be taken in a sequence of actions.
  4. SPECIFIC PROCEDURE.
    In chronological order, lay out the entire sequence of events, omitting nothing. Sometimes it is advantageous to carry out a dry run of the event(s) in order to identify some simple, yet un-noticed events. All of these events can be taken from the risk assessment, if same is carried out using the “what-if?” scenario, from EN ISO 14121:2012, e,g, power-up electrics, open-up air, turn on gas supply, reset safety function, etc.
  5. TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION or MATERIALS & EQUIPMENT.
    Here we have two different possible headings, namely, one for a machine assembly – Technical Specifications and the second heading for a service type situation – Materials & Equipment. Whichever task you are involved with, each heading will convey important data to the user, some of which could include;
    TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION.            MATERIALS & EQUIPMENT
    400 vac. 3-phase, 65 A                          List of PPE
    Air Press                                                Lifting Equipment
    Noise levels                                           Vehicle type
    Weights                                                  Percentage Caustic
    Password                                               MSDS
  6. RESPONSIBILITIES.
    There are two methods of identifying the responsibilities, i.e by function or by individual and in many cases these are combined where we have the functional duty allocated to a specific member of the task team. An example of this could be where Scuba divers have constructed a dive plan for the safe decent and exploration of a wreck and each individual will have a specific role to play, however, have enough knowledge and capacity to take over the role of another diver who may have been compromised in their role.
    Another example could be that of the start up of an assembly after a maintenance shut down, where control positions may be remote from the operating mechanisms and sustained communication is essential>
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  7. Internal References.
  8. External References.
  9. Change History.