Operating procedures provide guidelines that allow hazards to be controlled to an acceptable level of risk during operation of a system (see Safety Planning).

Operating procedures should:

  • be prepared with worker input
  • undergo review and approval by the safety authority
  • be field-validated (walk-down of operating procedure prior to release for work, or re-release for work, such as when modifications to the procedure or system have been made.
  • specify that modifications to the procedure or system must be documented and verified. A systematic change control procedure should be in place to ensure the continued safe operation of the system.
  • be posted in a conspicuous location (for example, on the door into a laboratory space)
  • be reviewed and updated periodically
    • operating procedures must be updated after significant system modifications
  • include emergency shutdown procedures, which may be posted separately

Operating procedures define if at least two people (i.e., the 'buddy' system used by NASA) are needed to operate the system, and if the system is authorized for overnight or unattended operation.

The operating procedures should identify who is authorized to operate and/or maintain the equipment.

Operating procedures should define what personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn when operating equipment or performing experiments with cryogenic or gaseous hydrogen.