On April 30, 2013 the JST hosted a seminar presented by DEHS on Standard Operating Procedures. This workshop focused on the function and essential elements of standard operating procedures (SOPs). Topics discussed included writing SOPs, maintaining SOPs, and policies regarding SOP updates and availability to researchers.

  • Presentation by DEHS on SOPs

  • All Handouts referenced during that workshop are available on this page.

  • A video is available by request if you were unable to attend. Please email for more information.

Answers to Common Questions on SOPs

1. What is a standard operating procedure (SOP)? (see Slide 5)

A documented set of instructions, used to standardize a method and communicate hazards for a specific procedure, process, chemical class, chemical or piece of equipment.

2. What goes into an SOP? (see Slide (14-17))

  • Sequential list of steps outlining how to handle, operate, or perform a task

  • Potential hazards, Appropriate controls, Training Documentation

3. What types of SOPs should my lab have in place? (see Slides (20-36))

  • At minimum, the top 3 riskiest procedures performed in your lab. Choose based on:

  • Severity of consequences: death, serious injury or damage to facilities

  • Frequency of use or large volume

  • Easy to mess up

4. Why is my lab required to have SOPs on hand? (see Slides (6-10))

  • Satisfy requirements (OSHA- CHP, Lab-specific Training; Chemistry Department reqs)

  • Communicate hazards, Ensure consistent results and Protect people, equipment, research and environment.

  • Valuable skill for employers. i.e. Dow

  • Academic labs are under increased scrutiny from reg. agencies due to accidents

5. How often should we update our SOPs? (see Slides (51-52))

  • For the annual review or after using as Lab-specific training material

  • When a "significant change" is identified- not adopting severe consequences

6. How are SOPs maintained? (see Slides (11-13 & 19))

Used as lab-specific training document for new group members. This process should identify any needed changes.

7. How do I write an SOP? (see Slides (38-49))

  • Identify needed SOPs which are not covered by other resources (Slides 23-32 & SOP resources)

  • Prioritize (slide 20 & ID & Prioritizing)

  • Write the Procedure (slide 40-42)

  • Re-read the procedure and assess for hazards (See slides 43-47 & Chemical Hazard ID)

  • Re-read the procedure and select appropriate controls (See slides 48-50 & Control Selection)


For more information on SOPs

Completed SOPs:

A binder of SOPs is available for viewing in the main office (Smith 139). Sharing SOPs is okay, please ask the author (PI & or LSO) for permission. PIs also have access to SOPs on the chemistry collaboration google site. There is ongoing discussion to develop a secure site for everyone to share and comment.

"Hands On" Workshop?

Based on the SOP survey, there is interest in a follow-up workshop in which people could actively collaborate on SOPs and receive feedback. This was originally scheduled for the May LSO meeting, but there was enough interest from faculty that the plan has been altered. Plans are in the works during Fall 2013. Most requested topics were: If you are interested, please consider volunteering to be a topic leader and stay tuned to JST emails for time & place.

Questions now?

Please contact our DEHS Research Safety Specialist, Anna Sitek or 612 625-8925.

The JST began from a partnership focused on safety between Dow Chemical Company and the Departments of CHEM and CEMS at the University of Minnesota in April 2012. Through this partnership, the JST is able to learn and adapt the best practices from industry in order to improve the culture of safety in academia.