Developing and writing effective standard operating procedures
Part two: When Should SOPs Be Written?
By Ken MacDonnell, P. Eng.
Professor, Fleming College
Assuming you already have an SOP development program in place (see part 1), then it is a question of setting a priority for the SOPs to be developed.
A hierarchy of procedures will determine the order of development starting with procedures that represent an activity with a substantial risk of impacting either the health and safety of employees or the public. Even after all SOPs have been developed and implemented, there is still work to be done with respect to procedures:
- New employees should be properly trained on Standard Operating Procedures (do not inundate them with all SOPs and expect full understanding).
- Review of existing SOPs every three years (at a minimum) to ensure they are still relevant and reflect how the task is being done. Just like you need to update your MSDS sheets every three years, your procedures should not be any different. If changes are made to a procedure, don’t forget to document the change and make sure that all copies are also changed.
- New equipment / chemicals / etc. may require a change in SOPs. If you make a change from Alum to PACl as your coagulant, it will likely mean that the operational set points will also change. This must be reflected in all SOPs affected by this change and this must be done immediately.
If you do not currently have a comprehensive SOP program, then it is imperative that you begin to develop a program.
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