Managing Functional Safety Competence of Technicians

IEC 61508 and IEC 61511 require people / technicians to be competent to undertake their roles - Functional Safety Competence of Technicians - Engineering Safety Consultants

Managing Functional Safety Competence of Technicians

The Operation and Maintenance phase of the IEC 61508 / IEC 61511 safety lifecycle is probably the longest period in which the safety related control system (SRCS) or Safety Instrumented Function (SIF) exists.

During this period the most important set of people are your Technicians. Their role is to keep the function operating correctly when it is called upon.

What do I need to consider with the Functional Safety Competence of Technicians?

The standards IEC 61508 (and sector specific standards such as IEC 61511) require people to be competent to undertake their specific roles within the safety lifecycle.

So if I employ certified / time-served trades personnel then surely I’m covered?!

This may be correct, however you need to consider whether the Technicians fully understand the functional safety requirements in conjunction with how it relates to your facility.

The competence of Technicians should include, as a minimum:

  • Knowledge of the requirements
  • How you implement the requirements on your facility
  • The importance of maintaining the SRCS / SIF as intended, including keeping exact components in use
  • The importance of accurate proof testing records
  • The importance of recording (allowing evaluation of) failures and demands on the functions
  • The importance of understanding the impact a modification potentially has, in light of the requirements

Where do I start?

The first port-of-call is to review the current arrangements within your facility for evaluating the competence of your Technicians.

Does your facility have a competence management system?

Does it adequately address the areas covered within this blog?

The key areas to the managing Functional Safety Competence of Technicians:

  • Knowledge (do they have the background understanding);
  • Experience (have they been shown the way of testing the systems on your facility? Then put this into practice);
  • Assessment (are you confident that they understand the functions that they are testing and know their limits in order to ask the correct questions);
  • Auditability (could you demonstrate under audit that you have competent people managing your systems?).

How can ESC help?

ESC have consultants with experience in setting up competence management systems and can guide organisations in the best approach for them.

Our functional safety training services can provide the knowledge to support the competency framework with our standard courses, or courses can be tailored to your specific needs. See Introduction To Safety Instrumented Systems For Technicians 1 Day Training Course/ for more details.