Managing operator competence is a critical part of managing overall safety of an asset. Wherever people interface with complex work systems, skilled performance and system knowledge are vital to operational integrity. Increasingly, regulators are demanding that operators demonstrate, through their safety case, how they are minimising the risk of human failure, from design of the asset through to operations. Key to managing this risk is a robust competence management system; one which provides an integrated set of safety critical operational activities and maintenance tasks carried out in the organisation.

Industry leaders agree that assurance of systematic process safety competence requires board-level ownership. Board members and senior leaders need to demonstrate and invest in good competence management practices at the individual level. They also need to know what processes and practices are vulnerable at any given moment.

Proactively managing process safety competence can be demonstrated through a Competency Management System, which incorporates recruitment requirements, site induction materials, training courses, risk assessment tools (e.g. HAZIDs, Bow-ties, HAZOPs), human error analyses and training needs analyses. The right merging of these to underpin competence is a critical part of a site’s overall management of major accident hazards.

This paper discusses the practicalities of building and refining a Competency Management System, to enable owners to better manage process safety through demonstrated competence.

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