August 19, 2019
One of the best measures of workforce competency is Operational Discipline (OD). OD is long and complex journey focusing on consistent execution of procedures plus other variables. At its core it is comprised of two key areas: human engineering and Conduct of Operations (CoO). The goal of OD is to minimize human error and maximize workforce competency.
To reach the goals of reducing human error and maximizing workforce competency… having a competent workforce should be a company’s objective, not having a great training program. Many companies focus on training, but lack comprehensive procedures for executing their core business. Training without CoO and OD (knowing what to do, but not exactly how or when to do it, and in what situations) can lead to significant operational challenges and process safety events.
While the concept of competency has been around for decades, it wasn’t until within the past ten years that the oil and gas industry started focusing on achieving a competency workforce. Recent regulations like SEMS for offshore safety and Responsible Care have been instrumental in driving organizations to incorporate competency into their culture. At its most basic level, competency requires companies to create Job Role Maps and Competency Assessments. This gives organizations a roadmap for staff to progress through the ranks. Generally, these tools are focused on positions such as operators and maintenance technicians.The initial investment to create Job Role Maps can be a barrier to entry, so often, companies resort to simply adding training to the regimen as the time and investment required to do true Competency Assessments and build out Job Role Maps present management with difficult decisions.
Though training alone is not the answer to competency, it is a significant component of achieving a competent workforce. The effort to assemble the content for computer-based training, whether created internally or externally, can be significant. Companies need to create a training matrix to track training for their staff. Usually, they start with tracking EH&S compliance and safety-critical training, moving out to encompass other areas as the program matures.
Companies also need to deal with contractor management and short-term hires. A mentoring program should be developed along with a Short Services Employee Process to sign-off on knowledge demonstrated/competency achieved. Organizations who make the investment in competency can then use it as the basis to establish what training program is required for each individual. That information is best tracked in an LMS/training tracking solution.
Additional resources to augment typical training include Training Guides, Large Control Diagrams, and Process Description Manuals. These, too, take investment to generate, but are key pieces in helping employees move from trained to competent individuals.
Another tendency of companies in the past was to develop Operations and Maintenance procedures, only to find that these tend to stagnate and sit on the shelf. Newer evolutions include adding in Operator Rounds, Operator Logs, and shift handoff to increase the efficiency of Operations and Maintenance personnel. As companies realize that they need to incorporate Conduct of Operations, they often consider procedural automation and mobility solutions to empower personnel with information on tablets and phones. Mobilized procedures and information reduce the stagnation of information and ensure the workforce has the information necessary perform tasks competently whenever needed.
Read Part 1 of this series: ERM vs. ORM – What is the difference? »
Read Part 2 of this series: An in-depth look at Risk Management »