What are SOP's / SWP's?
S.O.P - Standard Operating Procedure or Safe Operating Procedure
S.W.P - Safe Working Procedure
Essentially, SOP's / SWP's are documented instructions that break down tasks into a set of steps which describe the safe way to perform a task, operate machinery or use equipment.
When we purchase a new appliance, in most cases, there is a user manual with a set of steps which explain how to safely set up the appliance, how to safely operate the appliance and in some cases how to safely clean or service the appliance - these instructions are examples of SOP's.
SOP's should take into account the following:
- Who should/ who is allowed to perform the task?
- What skill/s or competency is required to carry out the task?
- What hazards & risks are present?
- What are the safe operating conditions that need to be met to perform the task?
- What equipment of protective clothing is required to perform the task?
- What pre-start inspections are required?
Following these questions, the steps can then be described including any "lock-out" or storage required after the task is complete.
The more detailed the steps are, the less likely it is that the task will be performed incorrectly or unsafely.
Employees should be trained on SOP's before carrying out their tasks in order to ensure they understand the correct, safe way to do so.