Procedure Development

Procedure Development: How to Boost Your Plant’s Performance

If you were given a procedure to follow, such as changing a flat tire, how many steps do you think you could remember in the correct order six months from now? What if your safety and the safety of those around you depended on your accuracy?

It used to be accepted in certain plant environments that experienced workers could perform from memory – and procedures were unnecessary. However, we know this is not the case in a successful, safe, and optimized plant, especially as older generations retire, and younger personnel are hired.

Procedures are the primary tools for safe facility operations. These tools bridge the gap between technology and human beings. Technology, for the most part, will operate as designed until an update is needed. The human element introduced by operators adds a certain level of unpredictability. This can be mitigated with proper procedure development.

Human Performance Modes

There are three human performance modes found within human-factored procedure writing including knowledge-based, skill-based, and rule-based.

Knowledge-based space occurs in procedures when using phrases like “if necessary” or “if deemed appropriate”. This increases the risk for error because the language is subjective based on the operator’s knowledge and experience level. In the event that personnel are not equipped with the right knowledge to make the right decision, this can lead to safety incidents.

Skill-based space occurs in procedures containing highly practiced, routine activities. The level of detail must be suitable for a newly qualified user but may also contain sufficient checks or verifications in conjunction with users employing their own human performance tools, or skills. A checklist is a good example of a procedure in a skills-based mode. Mistakes in this mode are typically the result of inattention or lapses in memory, unlike knowledge-based space where the user simply does not know what to do. It is also important to consider that just because your personnel were trained once six months ago doesn’t mean they will be successful in the field. Your personnel need repetitions to remain in skill-based procedure space.


In the procedure development world, rule-based space is most ideal. This can be accomplished using conditional action steps, with phrases such as, “if, then” and “when, then” in your procedures. This empowers personnel with specific criteria and information to make educated decisions. For example, instead of saying, “when the pipe gets hot”, you could say, “If the temperature reaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit, then open the valve.” Specificity is key for rule-based procedures.


Improving Efficiency with Consistency

Not only do human-factored procedures need to be specific and technically accurate, but they also need to be consistent. You don’t want your personnel wasting time in the field trying to decipher the procedure or flipping through pages to find the right information. If personnel are focused on the procedure and not on safety or efficiency, accidents can happen.

Instead, you want your personnel focused on completing the job that they were assigned. Consistent procedures put people in the right frame of mind to get the job done right the first time.

The consequences of deviation result in increased labor costs, labor fatigue, and increased costs due to incidents and shutdowns. The bottom line is that good procedures improve efficiency by reducing the number of accidental shutdowns caused by human performance errors.


Consistent, concise, and logical procedures are ideal. Don’t let your procedures become the problem.


Getting it “Write”!

Properly written, human-factored procedures keep personnel in a rule-based space. Whether you are in a nuclear plant or in a manufacturing facility, your procedures should be written for the least experienced qualified user. Seemingly minor details like the size of the font, the amount of white space on the page, and bolded words are all part of making the procedure an effective tool.

Tormod’s Procedure Professionals Association’s (PPA)certified writers can help you with standard operating procedures, training plans, and original equipment manuals. Our Team of subject matter specialists, including safety specialists and Controls & Automation specialists, and our Team of multi-disciplined engineers including process, mechanical, electrical, and industrial engineers, have the experience and understanding required to ensure your team’s safety and your plant’s efficiency.

Contact us today to learn more!

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Procedure Development

Procedure Development: Creating a Safe Working Environment

When you buy a new car, you receive an owner’s manual that provides you with information about maintaining your car, troubleshooting issues, and what to do if your car breaks down.

Operators of the equipment in your plant require the same type of collective information to sustain the integrity of the asset and handle emergency situations.

Whether you are upgrading your systems or have entry-level personnel who require training, you must have updated procedures that inform the operators of how to approach any given situation.


What is Procedure Development?

Procedure development is instructional documentation provided to plant leadership that gives plant personnel the information needed to operate and maintain the asset during its lifecycle.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – under sections 29 CFR 1910.119 (Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals) and 40 CFR Part 68 (Risk Management Program for Chemical Accidental Release Prevention) – require systems containing hazardous chemicals to have procedures based on process safety management.

The main reason for these written procedures is to create a safe working environment for your plant personnel and community, reducing the risk of injury and damaged equipment.


Mechanical Maintenance Procedures

To maintain the integrity of the mechanical equipment at your site, you need maintenance procedures that not only inform your staff but also comply with OSHA guidelines.

Your mechanical maintenance procedures should include the following:


    • Preventive maintenance (PM) schedule – a step-by-step guide on how to perform the maintenance on the asset
    • Job instructions
    • Critical spare parts list based on components in the field
    • Frequencies of maintenance tasks for the entire system
    • Safety precautions
    • Equipment descriptions



Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) Procedures

For every asset at your manufacturing facility, your process safety information should be collected and organized in the form of a standard operating procedure (SOP), which is required by OSHA. Your SOP should include system overviews about startup, normal operations, emergency shutdowns, startups following a turnaround, operating limits, and safety systems.


Developing the Right Procedures

Regardless of a greenfield or brownfield project, collaboration among the operations team, design team, and a process safety management coordinator, is critical in developing your procedure documentation.

After completing a process hazard analysis, a team of qualified individuals – field operator, DCS operator, or electrician – should meet with engineers to discuss the system and provide solutions and specific instructions for any potential issues.


Working with Industry Specialists

Whether you are developing new procedures or updating current ones, Tormod’s Team of multi-disciplined engineers, including three Procedure Professionals Association (PPA) Certified writers, will use best practices to ensure your documentation meets industry standards and recommendations.

Create a safe working environment for your plant personnel by teaming with Tormod. Contact us today.


Be the Leader of a Great Plant!

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Execute a Custom Plan

Lead a Great Plant