One of the changes that was made in 2016 to the IEC 61511 standard was the inclusion of periodic personnel assessments (clause 188.8.131.52), whereby a procedure is required to manage the competence of all those involved in the SIS lifecycle; “periodic” assessments are to be carried out to document the competence of individuals against the activities they are performing and on change of an individual within a role. Their purpose is to help prevent systematic failures from being introduced.
Since IEC61511 is a performance-based standard and not a prescriptive standard (i.e., it defines what needs to be done rather than how it is to be done), it doesn’t specify a minimum time period for undertaking the assessments or how the assessments are to be undertaken. Therefore, this is left to the end user to decide.
It’s been two years since the IEC 61511 standard was updated, but many end users I talk to are not undertaking these assessments.
Those of you who have attended the FSE 100 course that I’ve taught will know what I mean when I mention the three Ps:
- People: Are our personnel trained and competent to be performing Safety Lifecycle (SLC) related tasks?
- Procedures: Do we have well-defined and practical procedures that are being followed?
- Paperwork: Do we have documented evidence that we are following the SLC requirements?
It’s the first “P” that is relevant here, making sure that personnel are fully trained and competent to carry out SLC-related tasks. The assessments are an important part of ensuring that competency is being maintained. This is especially true if new equipment is being used and/or changes have been made to the SIS or personnel.
The nature of the assessments is, again, left up to the end user. They could be a mix of on-the-job and/or written assessments, the results of which should be recorded in a competency log or training record. These assessment records should be used to develop the appropriate ongoing training plans required. A reasonable time period for conducting an assessment could be annually or bi-annually, depending upon the role and competency requirements of the individual, together with the experience level of the personnel involved (e.g., new recruits or mid-level).
Remember, accidents can cost lives, as well as have significant financial and environmental implications. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable due to a lack of personnel competency by not undertaking periodic assessments.
If this piqued your interest, then consider attending the upcoming webinar, Succession Planning – The Challenge and the Need.