Competence is a word that is used increasingly across process industries and is becoming a core part of legislation in much of the world. Standards and directives such as IEC61508, EU Offshore Safety Directive 2013/30/EU, or indeed the UK Health and Safety Executive's “Managing Competence For Safety-Related Systems” all refer to the requirement to be able to document and assess competence. IEC 61508, Functional Safety of Electrical/Electronic/Programmable Electronic Safety-related Systems (E/E/PE, or E/E/PES) requires that “All persons involved in any overall, E/E/PES or software safety lifecycle activity, including management activities, should have the appropriate training, technical knowledge, experience and qualifications relevant to the specific duties they have to perform.” In addition, it crucially requires that competence be “documented and assessed.”

Competence is developed through many routes – on-the-job training, Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) training, formal classroom learning, external classroom courses, through the use of Operator Training Simulators (OTS) or by simply doing a job for many years. What is becoming harder for many companies now though is the ability to map people to competencies, to demonstrably track their staff against these competence requirements and, with the departure of senior people due to retirement, to be able to create the role models for competence profiles so that seamless replacement of staff can happen.

This paper will work through the steps of defining competence, how a competence development and management plan is created and how compliance to the current varying legislation can create more confident operations.

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