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Oklahoma State University

Standard Operating Procedures Style Guide

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) are required when using particularly hazardous materials, conducting hazardous operations, or documenting common laboratory processes that are not given in the Laboratory Safety Manual. SOPs are laboratory work instructions that list the procedures, safety analysis, engineering controls, PPE, training, and approvals. OSU SOP format is designed to be simple, effective, and address a wide range of needs. Hazardous materials that require SOPs include hydrogen fluoride, explosives, pyrophoric chemicals, toxic gases, and chemicals that pose a significant health risk. Hazardous operations include (but are not limited to) high pressure/vacuum systems, testing explosives, use of power equipment/tools, and working with electrical systems. Many common laboratory procedures are listed in the Laboratory Safety Manual, but not all procedures can be listed. Common laboratory procedures should be documented and may include the use of lithium polymer batteries, cleaning glassware (when using particular hazardous chemicals), operation of custom engineering controls, or use of laboratory equipment.


SOP Authoring and Maintenance

SOPs should be living documents that change upon changes in laboratory procedures, administrative procedures, regulations, and technology. Departments are encouraged to establish internal processes for SOP generation, approval, and maintenance. However, EHS suggests developing SOP authoring process that has the following:

  • The PI/lab supervisor is responsible for developing written SOPs for their laboratories.
  • SOP training must be provided to affected employees and laboratory personnel. The training must be documented and retained by the department.
  • SOPs should be reviewed and approved by knowledgeable persons in the department.
  • SOPs should be reviewed and updated annually.
  • SOPs should be updated more often if the procedures are changed to capture and review incremental changes and avoid procedure creep.

General SOP Sections

Suggested SOP sections are described below, which meet hazard communication and chemical hygiene requirements. However, departments may also use established SOP formats.

Suggested SOP sections include:

  • Introductory Information - The author should list the title, department, building, room, and supervisor.
  • Procedure Overview - Provide a brief description of the project and/or procedure.
  • Health and Safety Information for the Hazardous Chemicals - Briefly describe the hazards associated with the materials or equipment used during the procedure.
  • Hazard Control Measures - Include engineering controls, administrative controls, and PPE that will be used to mitigate hazards.
  • Method Procedures - Give a systematic step-by-step instruction for the procedure.
  • Waste Disposal Procedure – Describe how the waste will be separated and stored.
  • First Aid Procedures – List first aid procedures in the event of an emergency.
  • Spill/Release Containment, Decontamination, and Clean-up Procedures – Provide response procedures to potential SOP hazards, and when to call EHS or 911.
  • Author and Approver Signatures – All SOPs need an appropriate approving official and listed author. The appropriate level of SOP approval is dependent on hazard risks. A suggested approval hierarchy is given in the Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) method.
  • Job Hazard Analysis – OSU JHA is designed to quantify and assess risks for a wide range of activities. A JHA will help the author identify the risk for each step in the procedure, identify the mitigation, and assign a value to the final risk. Based on the final risk score, a procedure can be determined as unacceptable, high, medium or low.
  • Training Record - Employees must be trained on specific laboratory SOPs that they use. The training record should be attached and have the employee’s printed name, signature, trainer, and date.


Standardized SOP Template

Departments are encouraged to develop their own unique SOP templates, which may incorporate additional regulatory requirements such as using radiation or biological materials.