Published on February 20, 2014
Good Practice Note: Applying Human Factors to Procedure Writing: Part B, Action Steps –Special Types 1. Non-Sequential steps. The user will assume the steps must be performed in the order listed unless the procedure states otherwise. Some times, the action steps are not orderdependent, i.e., the steps can be carried out in any order. When that is the case try to save the user time and frustration and reduce likelihood for error by putting the steps in a “natural” order. For example, close multiple valves that are located close to each other instead of requiring the operator to walk back and forth or climb up and down a ladder needlessly. If a sequence can be done in any order, state that clearly in the procedure step or in a note immediately preceding multiple steps. 2. Repeated steps. Some tasks require the user to perform a step multiple times. For these steps, state the following in specific terms: • When or how often the action is to be performed. • Conditions under which the action no longer needs to be carried out. EXAMPLE: MONITOR tank level every 30 min until level reaches “Max Normal” (45 ft.) If the recurrent step requires monitoring on a continuous basis and a data sheet is required, include a data sheet with the procedure, either in the text or in an appendix, as appropriate. 3. Concurrent steps. a. When two or more steps must be performed at the same time, state specifically which steps are simultaneous by using terms such as “concurrently,” “simultaneously” or “at the same time”. EXAMPLES: INCREASE inlet flow AND simultaneously MONITOR outlet flow to maintain level at 60 cm.
ADJUST indicator brightness by rotating thumbwheel while depressing “Indicator On” button. b. If the concurrent action(s) require two persons, place a note preceding the action step(s) that specifies: • Which steps are concurrent. • Personnel needed to perform each step. • Location where each person will perform their respective actions. • Means of communication between locations. EXAMPLE Steps 27 through 30 require an outside operator at the tank and a controller in the control center working together. Maintain continuous communication via area communication system or two-way radio. 4. Time-dependent steps. Some steps must be performed within certain time constraints. Those time constraints need to be specified precisely and, if possible, quantitatively. When the time constraint applies to a single step, write it directly into that step. When there are multiple actions to be performed within the same constraint a note preceding the applicable steps is acceptable. EXAMPLES: VERIFY “Oil Pre-Lube Pump” stops after 3 minutes of operation. OR Action steps 7 through 10 must be performed within 10 minutes 5. Conditional statements. (Action taken only if/when specified condition exists). a. Put the condition as the first word, bold and underline. “IF” is used for an unexpected but possible condition. “WHEN” is used for an expected condition.
EXAMPLE: IF product temperature is above 90F, NOTIFY Controller EXAMPLE WHEN controller output reaches 10%, PLACE controller in AUTO. b. The specified condition always comes before the action because the user needs this information to decide whether to perform the action. The “IF” or “WHEN” clause is followed by a comma. It is a good idea to place a “THEN” after the comma and before the verb statement, especially when there are multiple conditions or multiple steps to be performed depending on the answer to a condition; but it’s not necessary to use it when it is obviously implied. EXAMPLE: IF drain sump level is above the HIGH LEVEL limit, THEN DRAIN sump using NOP 31.1.A. AND NOTIFY control room operator AND ALIGN sump flow to catch basin. c. Use “AND” to link two or more conditions that must be met before an action is performed. Use “OR” to link two or more conditions when at least one of them must be met before an action is performed. EXAMPLES IF <Condition A exists> AND <Condition B exists>, THEN INITIATE controlled system shutdown (NOP-001). IF <Condition B exists> OR <Condition D exists>, THEN NOTIFY Supervisor and Control Center AND INITIATE abnormal condition system shutdown procedure (AOP-001) d. Where three or more conditions must be determined, a vertical list is preferred. EXAMPLE
IF any of the following conditions exist: <Condition A exists>, OR <Condition B exists>, OR <Condition B exists>, THEN GO TO Step 30. e. Be careful when using “AND” and “OR” together in a one step Avoid using them together in the same phrase. The logic can be easily misinterpreted. Preferred: SAMPLE IF <Condition A exists> AND <Condition B exists>, OR IF <Condition A exists > AND <Condition B exists> , THEN GO TO Step 50. Instead of: IF <Condition A exists> AND <Condition B exists> OR <Condition B exists exists>, THEN GO TO Step 50. f. In some cases it may be necessary to state exactly what to do if the expected condition is NOT met. EXAMPLE: IF <Condition A exists>, OPEN Drain. OR, IF <Condition A exists> does NOT exist, NOTIFY Supervisor immediately.
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