Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are written instructions for tasks that outline the preferred method of undertaking a task, whilst emphasising ways to minimise any risk(s) of harm. Also are referred to as: Safe Work Instructions, Safe Operating Procedures and Standard Working Procedures.
Written Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are essential to ensure a safe work environment and are an important part of an overall work health and safety system. SOPs provide procedures and information for workers to perform tasks safely and assist new workers with training and induction in the hazards of a task. SOPs should be developed for all techniques, processes, plant and equipment where risk to harm to a worker exists.
A Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) is a document that:
The work must be done in accordance with the SWMS.
One SWMS can be prepared to cover a variety of tasks, if it takes into account the changing nature of the work environment. Alternatively, a separate SWMS can be prepared for each type of high risk work.
When a SWMS is being used for a site where there are multiple hazards, the SWMS needs to deal with the specific hazards and risks on the site.