SOPs are Standing (or Standard) Operating Procedures - the "rules" covering every aspect of field activity. For some people they are not "Standing" but "Standard" Operating Procedures. The word "Standing" implies that they may not be standing at another time, which is correct, but "Standard" is also commonly used.
These Generic SOPs have not been written for those working in HMA office management, although these managers should find them interesting because nothing quite like this has been pubished before. These SOPs have been written for the many excellent field people who need practical references rather than vague generalisations. They are intended to provide a baseline from which field users can develop their own improved SOPs. Version 1 has now been amended to correct a few errors, take note of comments and allow for recent changes in IMAS. The Version available below is Version 2. Anyone using Version 1 should consider updating, and pay close attention to the changes in Chapter 3 (which cover the requirements of the 2009 "Land Release" IMAS).
A 2017 addition is V3 of a generic SOP covering the search for IEDs during Humanitarian MIne Action.
These SOPs are more comprehensive and detailed that any I have come across. In this format, they are my copyright, which I am happy to waive for non-profit use. Please acknowledge any text or pictures that you use in your not-for-profit publications.
These documents are freely available on condition that those using them accept all liability for errors or omissions. No part of the SOPs should be adopted before studying them closely and making changes to suit the needs of the particular demining programme.
I recommend that you download all of the files and print them to combine into the Generic SOP handbook. The larger downloads contain more pictures. The Cover chapter (including definitions) and Chapters 3 to 12 can make a useful field reference.
Click on the link to open the files. If you have major problems with opening the files, send an SAE and a blank CD. Email me asking for my UK postal address: avs(at)nolandmines.com.
By request, the files are available below as Printer Definition Files (*.PDF files) and as Microsoft Word Documents. If you use Microsoft Office, the document files should make it easier to copy the content for editing before use.
PDF files are highlighted in BLUE below.
Microsoft Word files are highlighted in RED below.
Generic SOP, Cover, Definitions, Introduction and Contents.pdf (577k)
Generic SOP, Cover, Definitions, Introduction and Contents.doc (742k)
The definitions and introduction are important and brief, so this should be read before tackling other Chapters. UPDATE to acknowledgements.
Generic SOP, Chapter 1: [Demining group details].pdf (310k)
Generic SOP, Chapter 1: [Demining group details].doc (525k)
This Chapter gives "fill-in" headings introducing the demining group, then describes recommended internal training courses and lists detailed responsibilities for the major positions in most demining field organisations. An accessible Quality Management philosophy is suggested and the SOP revision procedure is also explained.
Generic SOP, Chapter 2: Safety.pdf (283k)
Generic SOP, Chapter 2: Safety.doc (340k)
This Chapter introduces the integrated Risk Management approach, PPE requirements, PPE testing, and management of Visitors at Task sites. It details the calculation of working-distances and safety-distances (very different things), and describes approved methods of communication. Revised largely to reflect IMAS changes on PPE.
Generic SOP, Chapter 3: Releasing Land (and Task Risk Assessment).pdf (410k)
Generic SOP, Chapter 3: Releasing Land (and Task Risk Assessment).doc (535k)
This Chapter defines the criteria for releasing Suspected Hazardous Areas (SHAs), or part of SHAs, by Clearance, Reduction, Verification or Cancellation. It defines the Task Assessment, Technical Survey and Task Risk Assessment processes in unprecedented detail. The Task Release Plan and the final release of the land are also covered. This Chapter has been revised to meet new IMAS requirements and general safety concerns. Anyone interested in finally understanding Survey, Technical Survey and "Land Release", should read this.
Generic SOP. Chapter 4: Task site preparation.pdf (420k)
Generic SOP. Chapter 4: Task site preparation.doc (417k)
This Chapter covers the requirements for preparation at a Task Site. It details the CASEVAC exercise and describes the safe-area features required at various kinds of Task. This is dull, but important basic stuff. Only very minor revisions have been made.
Generic SOP, Chapter 5: Marking Systems.pdf (1338k)
Generic SOP, Chapter 5: Marking Systems.doc (1679k)
This Chapter covers the approved marking systems including pickets, painted stones and flags. The marking requirements for manual demining, MDD and machines is described. The permanent survey marking required at all task sites is also described in detail. This is dull, but important basic stuff. Only very minor revisions have been made.
Generic SOP, Chapter 6: Manual demining operations.pdf (3019k)
Generic SOP, Chapter 6: Manual demining operations.doc (2809k)
This Chapter describes all aspects of manual demining, covering manual procedures from vegetation removal and the use of metal-detectors to area excavation using REDS or other tools. BAC, and BACS are also covered, along with procedures to deal with obstructions in the SHA and the discovery of human remains. The Chapter also covers CASEVAC procedures during manual demining. This Chapter has been lightly revised. It is the most downloaded Chapter and should be essential reading for all. Comment and additions welcomed. UPDATE to metal-detector procedures.
Generic SOP, Chapter 7: Mechanical demining.pdf (2678k)
Generic SOP, Chapter 7: Mechanical demining.doc (3511k)
This Chapter describes general principles behind the use of machines, their strengths and limitations. It describes the management of mechanical assets, then gives detailed procedural instructions for a range of machines covering converted Excavators, the Dok-Ing MV-4, the CASSPIR with steel wheels/rollers, MPVs, the MineWolf, MPVs with VMMDS and MPVs with the MEDDS based remote explosive sensing system. The Chapter also covers CASEVAC and machine recovery in the event of an accident involving a machine. This Chapter has been lightly revised. It is the second most downloaded Chapter and should be essential reading for all. Comment and additions welcomed.
Generic SOP, Chapter 8: Mine Detection Dogs.pdf (804k)
Generic SOP, Chapter 8: Mine Detection Dogs.doc (1733k)
This Chapter provides detailed operating procedures for the deployment of MDD, covering search patterns, training requirements, accreditation, healthcare and the varied requirements of MDD Team management. The Chapter also covers MDD CASEVAC procedures. Very minor revisions have been made.
Generic SOP, Chapter 9: Integrated Systems.pdf (572k)
Generic SOP, Chapter 9: Integrated systems.doc (552k)
This Chapter summarises the integration of machines and MDD with manual demining operations, the variations to stand-alone procedures that are required, and the kind of Tasks than can be conducted using integrated systems. This Chapter has only had very minor revisions.
Generic SOP, Chapter 10: Destroying mines and ERW.pdf (2475k)
Generic SOP, Chapter 10: Destroying mines and ERW.doc (2150k)
This Chapter covers the destruction of mines and ERW by explosive demolition, destruction in fires and destruction using chemical burning. Directions for the storage, transportation and use of explosives are given along with examples of detailed render safe procedures for some common mines. This Chapter "breaks the rules" by detailing some simple procedures that have hitherto been regarded as "black arts". A few additions and minor revisions have been made. Comment and additions welcomed.
Generic SOP, Chapter 11: Medical support.pdf (356k)
Generic SOP, Chapter 11 Medical support.doc (480k)
This Chapter describes the minimum medical support requirements for field operations. It includes a list of compatible blood groups for safe transfusion and describes accident investigation procedures. The minimum preferred insurance cover for National staff is also covered. This Chapter has only had very minor revisions.
Generic SOP, Chapter 12: Documentation.pdf (1275k)
Generic SOP, Chapter 12 Documentation.doc (1817k)
This unfinished Chapter gives examples of some useful documentation and reporting formats. This Chapter has only had very minor revisions.
Generic SOP, Annex A: MRE (Mine Risk Education).pdf (2027k)
Generic SOP, Annex A: MRE (Mine Risk Education).doc (2027k)
This Annex provides an example of the basic requirements for a national MRE programme in detail. A national MRE programme would usually be implemented by a national Mine Action authority, or a Mine Action Centre. When a national MRE programme exists, a demining group's MRE effort should be coordinated with it. When no effective national MRE programme exists, demining groups should combine MRE with Community Liaison activity. This is also covered and some potential lesson content described. A very popular download, this annex has only had very minor revisions. Comment and additions welcomed.
Because it is impossible to be “right” all the time, in all circumstances, SOPs should allow some flexibility in interpretation. When the SOP becomes a constraint rather than an aid, it should be revised - and the people using the SOP should always be involved in the revision.