As a safety content producer, I get the rare chance to look at countless standard operating procedures from a variety of large companies.
We use these documents to...
Over the years, I've had the honour of reading and improving stacks of standard operating procedures (SOPs).
One thing I've found, without a doubt, is that every single company can improve on them. In fact, as a conservative guesstimate, 95% of the SOPs we work from are wrong. This is a major concern because it is a legal requirement to have up-to-date and consistent procedures and policies.
But even more importantly, keeping strict version control of your PowerPoint training presentations or safety operating procedures and ensuring that your trainers are all teaching the same thing is a legislative requirement. If a death were to occur at your company site, the coronial inquest would request that the training materials used on the day the person was inducted and trained be submitted for review. If there is evidence that the PowerPoint version was open and anyone could change it or that the trainer did their own version of training, then that company would be found to be non-compliant training wise.
However, the most common mistakes with policies and procedures include:
The best policies and procedures must mirror best practices for the company which ensure staff safety, as well as productivity. Unfortunately, most have been written that are not the best practice.
The more you can ensure (and prove) that you standard operating procedures represent your best practices, the more likely you're insurer will reward you with a discount. However, you must be able to specify the steps you have taken to avoid certain risks and how these have been considered in your policies.
Essentially, here are five steps to creating best-in-class standard operating procedures:
According to the book, Accidents Waiting to Happen, by Rick Dalrymple, producing high quality safety operating procedures that includes best practices for reducing future claims, business risks and operational costs, will control insurance claims in the long run. This in turn ensures a profitably run company that will beat its competitors, through streamlining operational processes. In other words, spending the time getting your policies and procedures right will save you a lot of money long term - such as insurance fees, reduced claims, increased efficiency and a reduction in injuries.
What can you do to improve your standard operating procedures?