Procedures should be used, alongside training, as a last line of defence, where design of tasks and equipment is more effective in the avoidance of human error.  The term procedure covers a range of applications, including management system documents outlining work flows, front line work instructions, job aids, checklists, or rules communicated via other means.


  • Procedures are user-centered and represents “work as done”
  • Information is easily accessible
  • Information is clear and concise
  • Procedures are easy to provide and manage updates / corrections based on involvement of the end user. 

No procedure, even when developed following best practices, can be used as an effective prevention for human performance risks that are the result of poor design of systems.


The key to well designed procedures that will promote compliance and error tolerance is to implement user-centered design practices in the development process.  As such, the following is recommended:

  • New or significant updates to procedures should begin with a task analysis to clearly document the characteristics of the tasks including information requirements, communication requirements, time constraints, and critical hazards.
  • Assess the complexity and criticality of the activity to determine if a job aid (checklist for example) is more applicable.
  • Ensure that the procedure addresses Performance Shaping Factors (PSFs) or opportunities for error that could not be managed through design.
  • Present information in clear, concise, simple, active language that provides instruction to the user what exactly they are expected to do given circumstances that may exist.
  • Develop a procedure management process that reviews and tests procedures with users for regular updates.

Explore the Guidance and Development sections above to find out how to apply these recommendations. To begin, we recommend going straight to Level 1 >>


Drilling Contractor: “Why people don’t follow procedures: a human performance perspective"
New view of safety, accountability looks beyond enforcing procedural discipline to causes of non-conformance and how to manage variability in job execution

UK HSE: Revitalising Procedures
Providing guidance for employers responsible for major hazards on how to develop procedures that are appropriate, fit-for-purpose, accurate, ‘owned’ by the workforce and, most of all, useful.

UK HSE: Procedures Audit Tool
Checklist based on established good practice (HSG48)

UK HSE: Human Factors: Procedures
Why good procedure design is important.