Every Operator should have their Standard Operations Procedures (SOP) documented as part of their paperwork. The document has the following functions:
- Creating it affords an ideal opportunity to self-audit the procedures and processes of the operation, and ensure that nothing is being missed
- It creates an instant how-to manual for the operation for new members of staff, and/or for other members to run part or all of the operation in the absence of the owner/manager
- It forms the basis for regular scheduled checks that everything is being done correctly
- It is a document that will be referred to in the event of any investigation following an incident.
Every operation will have a different SOP. The following template should serve as a useful guide to writing your own. It is effectively a diary of what you do (or should do!) with your operation.
Operator: Your business/institution name.
Operations Manager (OM): The senior member of staff taking overall responsibility for operations on that day.
Group Leader (GL): The member of staff on the water in overall charge of any paddleboarding activity.
Deputy: An assigned member of the group to be the 2IC should the need arise.
Session: Any activity or lesson provided by the Operator.
Base: The shore base location for the session, where vehicles will be parked, primary 1st aid kit kept and the rendezvous location for emergencies.
Section 1: Routines
Note: these routines are in addition to the specific activities involved in and around any on-water sessions.
1.1 Daily Routines
Check email, mobile and social media pages for bookings and contact from clients
Check calendar for forthcoming sessions
Check long range weather forecast: Metservice, Surf-forecast.com [enter your preferred forecast media here]
1.2 Weekly Routines
Stocktake: Verify location of all equipment
Equipment Inspection – see Appendix 1
Review logs, follow up any outstanding bills, messages
Check first aid equipment and supplies, ensure anything that has been used has been replaced.
Replace/refill all water bottles in trailer
Check (and replace if necessary) level of suncream in trailer
1.3 Monthly Routines
Check first aid kit for expiry dates
Check tyres and WOF on trailer
Replace sugar source in instructor safety kit, check everything else for serviceability
Equipment Inspection – see Appendix 1
Section 2: Operations
2.1 The Day Prior To Any Intended Session
Operations Manager Responsibilities
OM will check for the following day:
- Weather forecast;
- Tide times;
- Any conflicting activities at the planned location which might take precedence or create hazards for your session.
If conditions are NOT favourable
Can the session be held at an alternative location?
- Advise all parties of the change of location,
- Adjust travel times and schedule if necessary
- Consider any other specific requirements for the new locations
- Commence cancel/postponement proceedings
- Ensure that all parties are advised
If conditions are favourable
- Check GL is briefed and has sufficient support team members as required.
- Contact clients to confirm sessions, locations and times
- Check RAMs for chosen location – anything else needing to be considered or addressed?
- Check all equipment is available and assigned.
- Ensure GL has full list of clients, contact details etc.
Group Leader Responsibilities
- Check through RAMs for the chosen venue – anything else needing to be considered or addressed?
- Check that the equipment/trailer is loaded and ready to go – check trailer lights.
- Check fuel and drinking water.
- Check personal attire requirements, First Aid and other safety gear all loaded.
- Check all required paperwork is loaded.
- Check client details, names, contact numbers etc, for each session
2.2 Session Day Set-Up
All responsibilities detailed from here on will rest with the Group Leader.
Always aim to arrive at least 30 minutes before first booked session, if applicable.
Immediately on arrival, complete H & S check:
- First Aid kit within reach
- Appropriate EAP is at the front of the folder
- Location of nearest defibrillator
- Location of nearest fire extinguisher
- Emergency exits (if indoors) / Assign assembly points if outdoors
- Assess water, wind and tide conditions – do they match those forecasted or will you need to change your plans for the session?
- Visual check of water environment for new or undocumented hazards. Note any changes, in order to update RAMs and consider changes to session if necessary.
- Visual check of shoreside environment for new or undocumented hazards. Note any changes, in order to update RAMs and consider changes to session if necessary.
- Status of toilets and facilities (ie open/accessible etc)
Set Up Environment
- Assemble tent/operating area
- Put out flags & signage
- Ensure paperwork is ready
- Cash float, hydration, nutrition
- Check other team members are present, briefed on roles, duties and emergency procedures
- Check briefing is ready to deliver.
Prepare Client Equipment
- Unpack van / trailer , carrying out essential checks as documented in Appendix 1
- lay craft and paddles out, in the shade if possible
- Check each craft is correctly configured
- Check PFDs are ready.
Prepare for specific clients/bookings, if appropriate
- Client names and details
- Assign boards and paddles
- Waiver forms
Prepare Instructor Equipment
- Instructor craft
- Personal gear
- rash vest
If still time before clients arrive:
- complete further RA sweep
- remove any rubbish
2.3 Client Arrival
Greet adults in charge of participant group, outline immediate H & S requirements ie hazards, where participants should assemble, etc.
Outline session plans to staff, get register of participants.
Ensure clients acknowledge and sign waiver
Ensure emergency contact details are recorded for all unaccompanied minors
Check attire of group and distribute/fit PFDs as necessary.
Formally greet participants, introduce the team, check register of participants, ensure all the team and school staff are agreed on exact number of participants.
Safety briefing for the session – see appendix 2
Final client check – see appendix 3
Activity briefing for the session
Session to follow appropriate format, see Appendices 4-6
2.4 Session End
Get all clients and equipment ashore
Warm down if appropriate
Return any property to clients
Reclaim any loaned property (specsavers, etc)
Discuss progress and next session
Note any injuries or incidents in the log book and consider follow up action
Equipment inventoried and packed up (or made ready for next session)
Debrief with participants
Debrief with team
Pack away or prepare for next session
2.5 Between Sessions
Staff and assistants to hydrate, refuel & reapply sunblock as necessary
Rebrief other staff and assistants, consider how things are going and change plans if necessary.
Check weather forecast
Check phone for messages
Visual check of:
- tidal conditions and consider impact over next few hours
- Weather conditions and consider impact over next few hours
Move equipment into better shade, if required
2.6 End of Day
Final check of site to ensure nothing left behind.
Complete Incident Reports and/or Equipment Issue reports if required.
Complete Session Report and staff logbooks
Submit reports to CRNZ.
Return equipment to base or to next operator.
Sort finances for the day
Write up client progress, thoughts on equipment progress etc
Circulate social media pictures if appropriate
Send out follow-up emails confirming future bookings
Write up and adjust procedures for any noted changes to risk assessments for the venue or session.
Section 3: Operating Locations
[operators should provide a written venue analysis of all their primary operating locations, ideally in a format similar to that shown in the example below. If sessions only take place at the Operator’s base location, the details listed below should still be recorded, so that they are in the Operations Manual and easily accessible for a group leader or team member needing to access them in a hurry. If the venue is not well known to all staff involved, include a map showing all the important features and locations. ]
3.1 Location X
Description: Pontoon allowing launching into the inlet, very safe and sheltered water.
Parking: Plenty of car parking
Facilities: Public toilets 150m away at the car park.
GoodGrub Restaurant (food, drink, toilets, first aid, fire exts)
Opening hours: 10am-9pm Thursday-Monday
Stone Store (shop, drinks, ice creams, defibrillator)
Opening hours:. 10am-5pm 7 days
Tidal Access: Usable at all tides
Local Hazards: Rocks and submerged objects at low tide.
Some occasional boat traffic.
Unprotected drops at wharf edge
Coaches and buses turning
Emergency Access: Very good. 5 minutes from nearest St Johns Centre.
Address: 150 Beach Road, Newtown.
Phone Signal: Yes, all bands.
Nearby residents: 500m away up the main road, if shop/cafe is shut.
Defibrillators: GoodGrub Restaurant, hanging up behind the till.
Fire Extinguishers: GoodGrub Restaurant, in front and back kitchen
Fire hose on the outside wall
Lat/Long: 35°13’04.5″S, 173°57’46.7″E
Appendix 1: Equipment Maintenance Schedule
Write in your standard daily, weekly and monthly equipment maintenance and checking schedule for the following.
[adjust Emergency Kit and Paperwork to suit your particular set up and requirements]
All items present:
- First Aid Kit
- Fire extinguisher
- Extra survival blankets
- Notes folder, all EAPs and sufficient Incident Forms
Replenish any used items
Waiver forms and brochures in the bag
Appendix 2: Standard Safety Briefings
[Insert your standard safety briefing texts here]
Other Possible Inclusions
The SOPs are the place to include any other relevant documentation for your operation, such as:
- Child Protection Policies
- Drug & Alcohol Policies
- Equipment Manifests
- Client Confidentiality Procedures
- Professional Development Policies
A good SOPs document should essentially give another operator (with the appropriate experience) all the information they need to step into your shoes and run your business.
Once you have written your SOP, don’t just file it away and forget about it. Many operators inevitably don’t refer to their SOPs that often, preferring to run the business from ‘within their head’. However, it’s all too easy to forget or overlook something , which could then create much bigger problems. Proper procedures and a methodical approach makes for less hassle, more control and a much safer environment.