NOPSA Calls for Better Competency Management on Offshore Facilities

Australia's national offshore petroleum safety authority (NOPSA) has called on offshore facility operators to put more emphasis on managing the competency of their workforce. The safety authority has recommended that all operators have a formal competency management system in place to ensure that all the skills required for safe operation of a facility are available when and where they are needed. Such a management system allows operators to identify and fill any competency gaps, and to plan for training and development of the workforce.

Acting CEO of NOPSA, Simon Schubach said some facility operators offered excellent formal competency management systems with tracking tools to identify the competency required and ensure that it is available within the rostered workforce at all times.

"Where a facility has shown to be performing poorly in competence, we have found that once a formal competency management has been put in place then standards improve quickly. We are aware that high rates of employee turnover are an issue in some parts of the industry, however this makes it even more vital that effective and well-resourced competence management systems are in place."

Schubach said that there was also a need to audit the workforce competence in safety critical tasks to ensure that the person identified as having the competence to do a task can actually perform it adequately. This is especially true of tasks done infrequently, such as emergency response procedures.

He said that NOPSA inspectors have found facilities where personnel identified as being responsible for performing certain tasks were neither familiar with the location of critical equipment nor the tasks they had to perform.

Schubach said that once a competence management system is in place, operators need to make sure that it is not just a 'paper exercise' but that it requires the evaluation of the performance of individuals when actually carrying out the tasks.

Under the occupational health and safety laws which apply to offshore petroleum facilities, the operator has a duty of care to provide safe systems of work which includes provision of information, instruction and training.

"A formal competence management system makes it easier for operators to manage their legislated