Please could someone help my understanding of SOPs. I've reviewed some generic SOPs for certain subjects and confused. I've spoken to a number of UK based consultants and I've had different explanations and still none the wiser.
Where I'm struggling is the correlation between a policy, (what we will do I believe) and SOPs (who and how etc?) and beyond that SWIs
As an example, if you took Welding would you have a general SOP which covers the general management of welding hazards and then a number of supplemental SOPs for the different welding tasks? We have welders within our organisation and the welding hazards are the same but the tasks are different? So could you have 10 SOPs for welding or would you have 1 broad general SOP and 9 SWIs for the different welding tasks.
Also how do you avoid duplication? I'm guessing a lot of procedures around a similar topic are going to be similar.
Working at Height is another example which I've seen. Working at Height has many other areas associated with it - use of stepladders, use of ladders, use of scaffolding, use of powered access etc. Back to my point above, is it numerous different WAH SOPs or one general SOP supplemented with SWIs for the tasks associated with WAH?
Apologies for the long winded question, if someone can educate me on this point and maybe provide some examples I would be eternally grateful. This really has me down a rabbit hole
It is important to note that while there is a documentation structure procedure, ISO 10013:2001, this structure is not required in the ISO management systems. It is a structure that is recommended for complex systems, but smaller companies do not need to have this sort of complex, multi-level system.
In this system, a policy is the top level, and gives the statement of intent on something. So, a policy that hazard identification will be done and why would be in a policy. A procedure is intended to give the who, what where, when and why of the activity. So, a procedure will give these details of the hazard identification. The work instruction gives the step-by-step instructions of how to do something, like how to do the hazard assessment, or how to actually do a process step-by-step to ensure safe operation.
Of course, nothing dictates that these need to be separate. You can include policy statements, procedure statements and step-by-step instructions in one document if you wish; including different sections for each work instruction for each type of welding. As stated at the beginning, this is the sort of structure that a large company might use, and is not necessarily required. To avoid duplication each work instruction will link to 1 procedure, and several procedures may link to 1 policy.