Written work procedures: Identifying and understanding their risks and a proposed framework for modeling procedure risk

Gregory Praino, Joseph Sharit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Organizations often direct considerable attention toward the identification and assessment of the various risks associated with hazardous process operations, and as part of their risk control system they typically rely on written procedures for guiding workers in carrying out the necessary task activities. However, these procedures can, in and of themselves, serve as sources of risk, which strongly suggests the need for methods that could enable organizations to efficiently assess the risks potentially intrinsic to their written procedures. This paper focuses on the identification, understanding, and modeling of the risks potentially associated with written work procedures. The idea of controls within procedures and a taxonomy of procedures based on the nature of a procedure's controls are first presented. This is followed by a systematic reappraisal of the risks resident in written procedures that are incurred through the processes of development and management of procedures by organizations. The focus then shifts to the implications for an organization's risk control system of behavioral variability associated with carrying out procedures. This leads to the presentation of a proposed modeling framework intended for translation or adaptation by organizations as a practical means for assessing what is referred to as "procedure risk"-the risk resident in procedures. Key concepts that are emphasized in this framework are the value of a procedural control and the likelihood of failure of a procedural control. Guidance is provided concerning a possible way for instantiating the modeling framework through a case study involving space shuttle ground processing operations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-392
Number of pages11
JournalSafety Science
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Hazardous processes
  • Procedure controls
  • Procedure failure likelihood
  • Risk
  • Work procedures and rules

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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