A senior consultant at ABB Consulting has warned not enough engineering companies are prepared for the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) new approach to competency.
Dave Dyer believes some firms will be caught out by the HSE competency tests, which will focus on individuals as well as organisational systems. He expects scrutiny over how a company’s most hazardous processes are carried out on a daily basis.
Firms need to demonstrate competency
If companies fail to prove competency, the HSE will carry out a comprehensive safety audit, which would cost the plant operator time and money.
Dyer said the HSE will search until it discovers who is responsible for something that has gone wrong.
“Human error is by far the most frequent cause of loss of containment events,” he added.
“Competency testing was previously only implicit, as part of HSE checks, but there is a far greater focus on it now. The aim is to improve safety, not to catch companies out, but I fear many could be underprepared.”
‘The inspectors are coming’
A large number of firms have not had a competency inspection but Dyer has urged them not to relax “because they are on their way”.
Dyer has advised the HSE will inspect two safety-critical tasks at a plant, for instance tanker loading and unloading.
Inspectors will work closely with workers in charge of the task, asking them to supply guidance notes, safety operating procedures and checklists. They will then watch them carry out the task.
“Ours is an industry that needs no reminding of the gravely serious incidents that can take place when procedures are not followed or when human errors occur,” said Dyer.
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