Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
In the oil and gas industry, standard operating procedures (SOPs) are frequently developed late in the project when construction is well underway – too late to impact the design. They may be used for little other than operator training and following startup they often end up on a shelf collecting dust.
Contrast this with the airline industry, where SOP use has dramatically decreased the frequency and impact of accidents. That industry has created a culture and expectation of following procedures. They use SOPs for normal events – takeoff and landings – and in response to emergencies. Learnings are effectively incorporated into their SOPs.
It is hard to imagine ever having such devotion to SOPs in the oil and gas industry, but it is something we should strive for. Effective SOPs that are diligently used by operators may be the driver for the next step change in process safety in the industry.
But this cannot reasonably be accomplished unless we start writing procedures that are more user-friendly.
We must start writing SOPs that the operators will actually want to use.
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