Operating procedures describe tasks to be performed, precautions to be taken. The procedures need to be technically accurate, understandable to employees and revised periodically to ensure that they reflect current operations.
The process safety information package helps to ensure that the operating parameters are correct. Operating procedures should be reviewed by engineering staff and operating personnel. Also, the employer must certify annually that the operating procedures are current and accurate.
Operating measures provide specific instructions or details on carrying out the stated procedures. The specific instructions should include the applicable safety precautions and appropriate information on safety implications.
For example, the operating procedures will affect the operation of the operating system, the temperature ranges, the flow rates, what alarms and instruments are pertinent if an upset condition occurs, and other subjects.
Another example of operating procedures is to start up or shutting down the process. In these cases, different parameters will be required from those of normal operation. These operating instructions need to clearly indicate the distinctions between startup and normal operations, such as the appropriate allowances for heating up a unit to reach the normal operating parameters. Also, the operating instructions need to describe the proper method for increasing the temperature of the unit until the normal operating temperature is reached.
Computerized process control systems add complexity to operating instructions. These operating instructions need to describe the logic of the software as well as the relationship between the equipment and the control system; Otherwise, it may not be apparent to the operator.
Operating procedures and instructions are important for the training of operating personnel. The operating procedures are often viewed as standard operating practices (SOPs) for operations. Control room personnel and operating staff, in general, need to have a full understanding of operating procedures. If workers are not fluent in English, then procedures and instructions need to be prepared in a second language understood by the workers. In addition, operating procedures need to be changed when there is a change in the process. The consequences of operating procedure changes need to be fully evaluated and the information conveyed to the personnel.
For example, the mechanical changes to the process made by the maintenance department (like changing a valve from steel to brass or other subtle changes) need to be evaluated. All management of change actions must be coordinated and integrated with current operating procedures, and operating personnel must be alerted to the changes in procedures before the change is made. When the process is shut down to make a change, then the operating procedures must be updated before re-starting the process.
Training must include instructions on how to handle upset conditions as well as the seal’s failures or pipeline ruptures. Communication between operating personnel and workers within the process area performing nonroutine tasks also must be maintained. The hazards of the tasks are to be conveyed to operating personnel in accordance with established procedures and those performing the actual tasks. When the wok is completed, the operating personnel should be informed to provide closure on the job.