Task Training: Tools, Ergonomics, Personnel, Safety

Standard Operation Procedures (SOP) direct employees to complete tasks correctly, the first time, safely. Effective SOPs are written and cover five areas of concern:

1. Task Protocol. How to complete the task. This instruction may be step-by-step or simply a quality standard. Be as specific as the results you seek.
2. Tools. Include the list of tools, equipment or machinery required to complete the task correctly. With this list, describe inspection procedures to assure tools are in good working order. For example, inspect screwdriver or chisel edges for any chipping or cracking. Chipped or cracked tools can splinter and injure the operator. Make sure machine or power tool guards are in place and functioning properly. Again, be specific.
3. Ergonomics. Will the planned work area force an employee into an unusual or uncomfortable posture? Is safety better served by removing a component and repairing it on a bench or fixing it in place? The weight of the component and ease of removal may be mitigating factors. Think through the process before beginning the task.
4. Personnel. Do you have enough labor assigned to a task to complete the operation safely? Do you have the correct skill leveled employees? If not, can you outsource the operation?
5. Safety. Walk through the process as a mental exercise to assure completeness of instruction. Add notes for proper personal protection equipment, and warnings against poor apparel choices, like loose clothes around spinning shafts. List safety requirements at the beginning and end of the SOP.

So why go through this process of SOPs? First, they set quality and safety standards. Second, most businesses, and consider construction, experience new processes or conditions on an ongoing basis. Things happen which require a quick response.

The thought process described above becomes second nature to employees faced with new tasks but no SOP. They learn how to plan a job as step one towards completion. Completing work correctly the first time is profitable and safe operations. Implementing these disciplines together as part of the planning stage helps your labor productivity.

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Further Reading
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