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10 Reasons Why Operators Won't Use Procedures

by Dan Pilgrim, Marketing Manager at ATR
10 Reasons Why Operators Won't Use Procedures

Importance of Following Procedures

Operators are responsible for managing and maintaining various types of equipment and machinery in a plant or industrial facility. They need to follow procedures to perform their job safely, as procedures are designed to ensure safe and efficient operation of the plant and its equipment.

Here are some reasons why plant operators need to follow procedures:

  • Safety: Procedures outline the necessary steps and precautions that plant operators should take to prevent accidents and injuries. By following these procedures, plant operators can reduce the risk of accidents and create a safer work environment.
  • Consistency: Procedures provide a consistent approach to operating and maintaining equipment, ensuring that the plant operates reliably and efficiently.
  • Compliance: Procedures help ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and industry standards. By following established procedures, plant operators can ensure that their work meets regulatory requirements and standards, which can prevent fines and penalties.
  • Training: Procedures are often used as training materials for new operators. By following these procedures, new operators can learn how to operate the plant and its equipment safely and efficiently.
  • Efficiency: Procedures help plant operators perform their work in a systematic and efficient manner. By following established procedures, plant operators can avoid mistakes, reduce downtime, and increase productivity.

Procedures are established to ensure that tasks are performed in a safe, consistent, and reliable manner. However, despite their importance, operators won’t always use them in the field.

Reasons for Noncompliance

Despite the importance of procedures, plant operators often neglect to follow them, which can lead to safety hazards and costly mistakes. Here are ten common reasons why operators won’t use procedures.

1. Lack of Training

One of the most significant reasons why plant operators do not follow procedures is a lack of training. Operators who are not adequately trained may not understand the importance of procedures, or may not know how to follow them correctly. They may also lack the necessary knowledge or skills to carry out the tasks outlined in the procedures.

2. Complexity of Procedures

Another reason why plant operators may not follow procedures is that they can be complex and difficult to understand, especially for new operators. Procedures that are overly complicated or poorly written can be confusing and overwhelming for operators. When procedures are ambiguous or unclear, operators may not know what is expected of them or how to carry out a task correctly. This can lead to errors and omissions when following the procedures, which can be dangerous.

3. Time Constraints

Plant operators are often under significant pressure to complete tasks quickly and efficiently, and following procedures may be perceived as a time-consuming activity. This time pressure can lead operators to take shortcuts or skip steps in the procedures to get the job done faster, which can result in mistakes and safety hazards.

4. Difficulty in Accessing Procedures

Procedures may be stored in various locations, such as computer systems, hard copies, and shared drives. Operators may not have easy access to these documents, and this can lead to non-compliance with the procedures.

5. Procedures May Be Outdated

Procedures need to be updated regularly to reflect changes in technology, regulations, and best practices. If procedures are outdated, operators may not use them due to irrelevance and inaccuracy. Operators may not have confidence in the procedures, especially if they have experienced issues while following them in the past. This lack of trust can cause operators to deviate from the procedures and perform tasks their own way, which may result in safety hazards. It is, therefore, essential to ensure that procedures are reviewed and updated regularly.

6. Perception of Procedures as Obsolete

Some operators may perceive procedures as outdated and not reflective of the current state of technology and industry practices. This perception can lead to non-compliance with the procedures, and operators may opt to follow their own methods.

7. Inadequate Supervision

Plant operators may not use procedures in the field if they are inadequately supervised. Supervisors need to monitor operator compliance with procedures and provide guidance and support to ensure that the procedures are followed. Effective communication is essential. If communication between plant managers and operators is poor, important information may not be conveyed, and operators may not know how to carry out a task correctly.

8. Lack of Accountability

When plant operators don’t follow procedures, it can be challenging to determine who is responsible for any resulting safety hazards or mistakes. This lack of accountability can lead to a culture of non-compliance, where operators do not feel responsible for following procedures.

9. Resistance to Change

Some plant operators may resist change, including the adoption of new procedures. This resistance may be due to a fear of the unknown, a lack of trust in management, or a belief that the current way of doing things is better. This can lead to non-compliance with new procedures and a failure to implement best practices.

10. Complacency

Finally, plant operators may not follow procedures because they’ve become complacent. When operators have been performing the same task for a long time, they may feel that they know the task inside and out and don’t need to follow the procedure steps. This is dangerous because procedures are living documents, regularly updated to reflect current regulations and best practices.

Ensure a Safe and Efficient Workforce

Plant operators who don’t follow procedures put themselves, their colleagues, and the entire plant at risk. Procedures exist for a reason, and that is to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the plant. When operators deviate from established procedures, they increase the likelihood of accidents, injuries, and equipment damage.

Following procedures is critical to maintaining safe working conditions, protecting the environment, and ensuring the reliability of the plant. Procedures are designed to minimize risks and optimize performance.

In addition, not following procedures can lead to regulatory violations and legal liability. Government agencies, such as OSHA, require companies to comply with established safety standards, and failure to do so can result in fines, penalties, and even criminal charges.

Therefore, it is crucial for plant operators to follow procedures at all times. By doing so, they not only protect themselves and their colleagues, but also the environment, the community, and the company’s reputation.