Investigating written procedures in process safety: Qualitative data analysis of interviews from high risk facilities

Farzan Sasangohar, S. Camille Peres, Jason P. Williams, Alec Smith, M. Sam Mannan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Written procedures can play an integral role in mitigating risks and hazards in industries such as petrochemical, nuclear, and aviation. However, failure to adhere to procedures has resulted in major incidents. While there have been multiple studies investigating procedures in the aviation and nuclear industries, a comprehensive study of the high-risk industries’ use of written procedures is largely absent. This paper documents one part of a large-scale project that addresses this gap by investigating the issues with procedure forms, usage, adoption, and challenges in a wide range of high-risk industries. A grounded theory approach in qualitative data analysis was used to examine 72 interviews with operators of varying roles and experiences across 6 countries and an offshore drilling vessel. Findings reaffirm previous research, suggesting an explanation for the lack of use of procedures due to the abundance of outdated procedures and procedures plagued by information overload. New findings suggest that frequency of the task and the experience level of the worker would impact workers’ procedure use. Other unintended consequences associated with written procedural systems included reactive organizational behavior surrounding procedures and a general disconnect between the users and the writers of these documents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-39
Number of pages10
JournalProcess Safety and Environmental Protection
StatePublished - 2018


  • Grounded theory
  • Interview analysis
  • Operating procedure
  • Petrochemical
  • Process industries
  • Process safety management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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