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Competence and Human Factors

Article text below – The Competence and Training committee had previously discussed the key components required to assess an individual’s competency to carry out their defined roles and responsibilities. These components are training, knowledge, personal skills and experience gained at the worksite. These are tangible components which can be assessed through evidence, observation, questioning and discussion by a trained assessor to make a judgement as to an individual’s competency to carry out their work safely.  

IMCA Contact

Andre Rose
Technical Adviser – Remote Systems and ROV, Offshore Survey, Digitalisation

Competency is a dynamic process with multiple variables and “other factors” which affect the individual’s ability to carry out their role, however this does not automatically diminish their ability to function competently.   “Other factors” are generally known as Human Factors (HF) which affects human performance and behavior in the workplace. Human performance can be optimized through better understanding of; the individual behavior, their interaction with others, their environment, and ultimately their human limitations.  

Culture, home life, job security, health care, construction, transport and engineering are all recognized as important human factors which can influence an individual’s performance. The aviation industry identified HF as a primary contributor to over 70% of commercial aircraft accidents and concluded that “even the most highly skilled and diligent people can deliver an inconsistent performance purely because they are human”.  

Offshore workers are frequently subjected to challenging and dangerous environments within their workplace, and the industries safety record stands as a testament to the robust competence standards that have been adopted as standard practice.   Working globally can bring extended periods away from family and loved ones. When you add multiple variables such as long shifts, cultural differences, unfamiliar environments and limited nutritional choice, these affect how an individual “feels” and communicates with others.  

Responsible operators understand the personal needs of individuals and ensure that facilities, such as internet access, satellite TV, books, gyms and lounges areas are readily available. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and the lack of facilities and social interaction out with the vessel crew can cause increased levels of anxiety over relatively short periods of time. It is not unusual for personnel to spend extended durations travelling to the worksite and quite often this can be in excess of 12 -16 hours which is quite stressful and very tiring. When faced with additional delays and subjected to vessel and project inductions on arrival further compounds both stress and fatigue. This becomes very unsafe when there is an expectation that they are required to start a 12-hour shift with minimal rest time.  

“Other factors” which can impact on an individual’s performance are personal factors, such as family bereavements, challenging relationships, or financial issues, and these may only be known by the induvial. These additional factors limit the individual’s ability to focus and communicate which has a direct impact on their safety and the safety of their colleagues. As noted previously human factors are far reaching and have to be fully understood before they can be implemented as an integral part project planning and execution, and a sense of belonging paired with team familiarity helps in making these factors more identifiable. Competence is not just about knowledge and learning skills, it encapsulates so much more!  

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