Standard Operating Procedures

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Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS)

What are SOPS?

Standard operating procedures detail safety procedures and instructions for undertaking a task-based activity.

Purpose of SOPS

Purpose of standard operating procedures is to provide step by step instructions for work activities with:

  • Hazards identified

  • Risk assessed

  • Risk controls to ensure worker safety

SOPS authored by Workplace Health and Safety demonstrate compliance with health, safety and risk management procedures by:

  • Assessing the risk to workers undertaking a task-based activity

  • Control measures per the hierarchy of controls for the management of risk

WHS Compliance

WHS Compliance More Info

WHS Laws

Workplace health and safety laws apply to a PCBU, officers of a PCBU, workers and other persons at a workplace.​

Workplace Safety

PCBU duties imposed by WHS legislation require a person conducting a business or undertaking to ensure a safe workplace.

Safety in workplaces is achieved through the:

  • Identification of hazards
  • Assessment of risks
  • Elimination of hazards
  • Control of risks, e.g. engineering controls, administrative controls

How to monitor WHS compliance

Health and safety compliance is achieved by:

  • Monitoring the effectiveness of control measures
  • Amending the SOP to reflect the implementation of any new control measures to manage the risk.

PCBU Duty of care

Health and safety legislation requires a PCBU to so far as is reasonably practicable eliminate risk and if it is not reasonably practicable to do so, then minimise the risk to persons.

PCBU responsibilities require a person conducting a business or undertaking to manage risks if they:

  • Engage workers to undertake work for them, or if they direct or influence work carried out by workers
  • May put the health and safety of other people at risk from the conduct of their business or undertaking
  • Manage or control the workplace or fixtures, fittings or plant at the workplace
  • Design, manufacture, import or supply plant, substances or structures for use at a workplace
  • Install, construct or commission plant or structures at a workplace


SOPS More Info

Standard Operating Procedure

Health and safety legislation imposes duty of care responsibilities on a PCBU as a duty holder to ensure the health and safety of workers.

  • Standard operating procedures must eliminate or reduce risks to as low as reasonably practicable

SOP Elements

The elements of SOP standard operating procedure must:

  • Identify the work task or activity
  • Identify the hazards relating to the task or activity
  • Identify risks to health and safety associated with those hazards identified
  • Assess the risk to determine the likelihood and severity of harm
  • Describe the risk controls to be implemented for controlling risk per the hierarchy of risk controls
  • Describe how the control measures will be implemented, monitored and reviewed to eliminate or minimise risk

What is SOP?

Standard operating procedures or SOPS are also known or referred to as:

  • Safe operating procedures
  • Safe work procedures
  • Safe working procedures
  • Work method statements

SOPS Format

Format for SOP or standard operating procedure should include:

  • The purpose and nature of the work or process to be undertaken
  • WHS legislative requirements or workplace standards relevant to the SOP process
  • Identify standard operating procedure roles and responsibilities for the task or activity
  • Identify the work task or activity and any potential hazards and associated risks
  • Risk control measures to eliminate or reduce risk to persons
  • Personal protective equipment used as a risk control when undertaking the task or activity
  • Hazard control methods for workplace environmental hazards
  • Step by step instructions for undertaking the work task without risk to health and safety
  • Clean up procedures and waste disposal measures for environmental workplace hazards
  • Workplace emergency evacuation procedures may also include shutdown procedures

What is SOP Compliance?

SOPS are safety checklists with step-by-step instructions for the control of risks.

The importance and benefits of standard operating procedures are:

  • Workplace consultation for SOP development promotes a safety culture amongst workers
  • SOPS affirm WHS roles and responsibilities about a task or activity
  • A standard operating procedure ensures a better understanding of the task or activity
  • Standard operating procedures ensure consistency in the performance of duties, tasks and activities

SOP Compliance Checklist

How can standard operating procedures help ensure legal compliance?

A standard operating procedure checklist assists with:

  • Maintaining effective standard operating procedures (SOPS)
  • Ensuring compliance with WHS legislation

A practical SOP checklist for a standard operating procedure should ensure:

  • SOP standard operating procedure for a task or activity is accessible and distributed to all workers
  • SOP training is the provision of information, instruction, training and supervision of employees
  • Implement and monitor work health and safety practices to check the SOP for statutory compliance
  • Review the standard operating procedure SOP and evaluate any hazards and risks created
  • Hazards identified in an SOP review will call for consultation with employees and the SOP document to be amended


Standard operating procedures or SOPS must include the PCBU details:

  • PCBU Name
  • PCBU Address
  • Person responsible for implementing standard operating procedures and monitoring compliance in the workplace

WHS Legislation

Health and Safety Legislation More Info

Health and Safety Legislation

The intent of health and safety legislation is to secure the health and safety of workers by eliminating risk arising from work.

Health and safety legislation in the workplace is the WHS legislative framework and comprises of:

  • WHS Acts
  • WHS Regulations
  • Codes of Practice

WHS Acts

WHS Acts provide the WHS framework to ensure the safety of workers and other persons who might be at risk from the undertaking of work activities.

WHS Regulations

WHS regulations establish a framework for the implementation of controls to prevent or minimise the risk.

Codes of Practice

Codes of practice provide WHS duty holders with WHS guidance material to:

  • Identify hazards and manage risks
  • Achieve the health and safety aims and objectives of the Work Health and Safety Act

Reasonably Practicable

A PCBU must so far as reasonably practicable, eliminate or minimise risks where there is no regulation or code of practice about a risk.

  • Elimination, substitution, engineering, administrative and ppe

WHS Standards

WHS Standards establish technical specifications and procedures intended to be used consistently, as a rule, guideline, or definition.

  • Australian Standards
  • Australian/New Zealand Standards

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS)