• 2009 - Chemical manufacture

    The client had started writing new operating procedures, but asked Andy for his opinion  Whilst the procedures looked good, using a standard template incorporating photos, he realised that they were tending to be longer than necessary and would take a considerable effort to develop and maintain.

    Andy worked with the client to develop a set of new templates for different types of task, and to create some examples of each. In general terms the template for low criticality tasks was a one page overview, whilst a full step-by-step procedure with sign-offs throughout was required only for high criticality tasks. A system for assigning criticality was developed and Andy produced a 'procedure for writing procedures' for the client to ensure the agreed principles were adhered to in the future.


  • 2005 - Oil products, Bitumen

    The client had recognised that the operating procedures for the site had become out of date and that rewriting them in their current style was unlikely to represent current best practice. Andy was asked to assist in implementing an improved approach to procedures. Working with the site, Andy developed the principle of an operators' manual. This would provide the basis for operator training and contain all the necessary procedures, job aids and other documents to be used by operators. The idea being that only information relevant to the operators was included so that it would always be easy to find what was needed.

  • 2007 - Steel manufacture

    Following an incident at the client's site, Andy recommended that emergency plans and procedures needed to be simpler and easier to follow. He worked with site personnel to modify the current documents to cover foreseeable emergencies, including COMAH major incidents.  The updated system was based on the POPMAR principles. There was an agreed policy statement with an organisation and set of site and plant emergency plans for implementation.  Also, arrangements for performance measurement, audit and review were considered.

  • 2009 - Gas terminal

    Andy was engaged by the client to provide a range of human factors support.  A significant part of this was the development of improved operating procedures.  This involved developing a comprehensive task list, ranked using a systematic method of assigning criticality.  Detailed procedures, developed using task analysis were produced for the 10% of tasks considered to be most critical.  The procedures were considered to be far superior to the previous procedures because they were shorter, clearer and more accurate.

  • I think everyone is familiar with procedures, but do we really know what they are?  Dictionary definitions vary, but they typically suggest a procedure is:

    • A manner of proceeding; a way of performing or effecting something.
    • A series of steps taken to accomplish an end.
    • A set of established forms or methods for conducting the affairs of an organised body such as a business, club, or government.

    Interestingly none of the definitions refer to written documents. However, in practice it is generally accepted that a procedure is written in a way that describes a task method.

    What do procedures look like?

    The term 'procedure' is used widely, but there are many other names for documents that describes methods of work, including:

    • Instruction or work instruction
    • Safe or standard operating procedure (often shortened to SOP)
    • Method statement
    • Job method
    • Safe system of work
    • Standing order.

    Whilst some organisations may differentiate between these different types of document it is important to realise that there is no universally agreed standard, and the same issues apply to all.

    Link to full article

  • 2006 -Oil Refinery/Petrochemical

    The client had recognised that in certain circumstance that procedures are a key risk control measure. As part of preparation for COMAH it was necessary to demonstrate that the actual procedures in place were covering all the requirements to minimise the likelihood of major accidents and to ensure mitigation. Due his previous involvement in procedures at the site, Andy was asked to review the current situation.

    Working to a tight timescale, Andy directed an internal audit of procedures and COMAH carried out by the client's personnel. He then visited every department to carry out his own 'sample' audit to act as a cross reference. This combined approach meant Andy had information to demonstrate that whilst minimum requirements were being achieved, there was an underlying problem that meant the link between procedures and COMAH was not being made in an effective manner. As a result he was able to recommend a change of emphasis in the way tasks were analysed that would have multiple benefits of focusing procedures onto major hazards and improving the understanding of people who use the procedures.