By Paul Groves While it is too early to tell exactly how new regulations such as the Workplace Safety Rule will affect training and competence assurance practices for the U.S. oil and gas industry, changes in these areas will be fundamental in minimizing the risk of human error and improving the safety of the workforce. Sadly, it often takes the occurrence of an incident to highlight the need for changes to training, learning and competence assurance practices. Just as the U.K. developed increased training and operating requirements following the Piper Alpha incident in 1988, it is likely that the U.S. will implement more rigid requirements as a result of the Deepwater Horizon incident. Going forward, our industry will need to re-examine how training is selected, delivered and measured. A continuous learning culture must be created. We must shift from a tick-in-the-box approach to one that examines the required competencies of the workforce and ensures that learning programs develop those competencies. We need to look beyond the minimum required safety training and address the technical and skills development needs of the industry as well. We need to move from the old delivery method of “chalk and talk” and find ways to deliver quality, blended, interactive learning. We also must ensure that the learning process is effective by building in an assessment process for the learner. Courses such as Major Emergency Management offer a powerful example of competence-based training. The learning is targeted for Offshore Installation Managers and Onshore Site Managers and incorporates blended learning to help develop competencies required in emergency situations. The course concludes by measuring the ability of the participant to perform emergency management duties to a specified standard through the incorporation of an appraisal or formal assessment process. It is important to point out that training alone does not result in competence. And simply adding more training requirements is not the answer to developing competence either. In addition to making changes to learning and training, Competence Assurance Processes (CAPs) must be reviewed and implemented. CAPs have been in existence in various forms for many years. They are designed to ensure that personnel can demonstrate the knowledge, skills and behaviors required to do their job. CAPs have evolved with the industry as a result of major incidents. They provide measurable, documented and auditable information on the competence of an organization’s workforce. CAPs assure that employees and contractors working in the industry are appropriately prepared to perform their roles in a safe, reliable and effective manner. As government regulations increase and the industry prepares for the ‘big crew change,’ a challenge that will involve replacing the aging workforce with competent new recruits, these processes will become increasingly important to have in place. If the industry can agree to competence standards that are fit for purpose for U.S. onshore and offshore operations we can bring about a step change in the way personnel are trained and deemed competent to perform their job tasks. While there will always be risk associated with working offshore, we can effectively mitigate that risk and improve workplace safety by making these critically important changes. Paul Groves, Managing Director, Petrofac Training Services