Businesses need competent people
Businesses share some common needs for success; a capable workforce that’s fully engaged, with structure and processes so that everyone understands what needs to be done and does what’s expected. This requires a shared vision, management alignment, and a mix of individuals who can demonstrate they have the knowledge, skills, experience, and attitudes to deliver what’s needed, day after day.
In the hazardous process industries, the competence assurance process must be linked to the major accident hazards, the risk assessments and the critical tasks, ensuring that those carrying out the tasks receive the information and instruction they need to complete them safely. Procedures should also be appropriate for the task in hand and the person, considering the knowledge and experience of the person doing it, the consequences of getting it wrong, and whether the task is routine, complex, etc. Critical tasks here might be those that could lead to an uncontrolled release of materials and/or energy if not carried out correctly, or tasks to be performed in an emergency to limit the consequences in the event of a release.
Whilst interest in competence management is growing, and much has been done to provide awareness training in process safety amongst leaders and managers within the industry, when it comes to the detail the focus still seems to be on those at the coal face, in operations and maintenance. In contrast, relatively little has been done to help managers in operations and engineering, and key supporting functions such as logistics and procurement, demonstrate process safety ‘management’ competence. It’s worth remembering, however, that an accumulation of hazardous materials in the wrong location or an uncontrolled change to specification could unintentionally undermine key assumptions made in the risk assessment, with devastating consequences (Flintshire County Council).
HSE Human Factors Briefing Note No.2 on Competence states that “The NVQ/SVQ system can provide some general and some site-specific competencies but this is not usually linked to major accident hazards and so sites should modify their VQ system to make this link”.
Recognising the requirement for organisations to demonstrate process safety competence at all levels, and a need for the board and wider members of senior management to prove understanding and competence in process safety, HFL Consulting has developed a series of integrated qualifications within the UK’s national framework for regulated qualifications.
The CIProS (Continuous Improvement in Process Safety) Qualifications have been designed to allow organisations to demonstrate management competence whilst enhancing individual staff development and leadership skills in process safety. But unlike standard classroom-based training, this work-based programme allows learners to develop an understanding of established PSM frameworks, guidance, and good practice in context, using what they have learned to identify opportunities for improvement within their own organisations as part of the assessment process.
The CIProS Qualifications comprise a Level 7 Award in Understanding Corporate Governance in Process Safety and Certificates and Diplomas in Continuous Improvement in Process Safety at Level 3 and Level 7. The programme has been developed in collaboration with PAA\VQ-SET, a national and independent specialist awarding body registered with and regulated by Ofqual, which is the regulator for all qualifications, examinations and assessments in England and vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland, and awards are made by PAA\VQ-SET.
Chris Hough, Engineering Manager, Baker Hughes, says: “Working on a top-tier COMAH site, the Competent Authority requires companies to demonstrate organisational competence in Process Safety Management. The CIProS qualifications provide a structured approach to demonstrating competence of continuous improvement in process safety within industry, at all levels within a company’s organisation. In my view, the benefit of participating in this particular course is that on a personal level, it provides an excellent opportunity to take the topics covered and through ‘group work’ relate them to other participant’s experiences. This has provided me with an overall and more complete understanding of each of the subject areas. The knowledge gained through the CIProS qualification has helped significantly in applying it to the setting up of a new PSM system on site. By the application of what has been learned I believe that our organisation is now in a good position to also realise real business benefits.”