Everyone responsible for an electrical, electronic or programmable electronic safety-related control system ought to be aware of IEC 61508 (Functional safety of electrical/electronic/programmable electronic safety-related systems) and its BS EN 61508 equivalent. In addition, IEC 62061 (Safety of machinery, Functional safety of safety-related electrical, electronic and programmable electronic control systems) is now available in the form of a harmonised standard (BS EN 62061:2005). The reason for mentioning these standards is that they require those working on such systems to be competent to do so.
The 'competent' person must be able to demonstrate their competence against a required standard, and competence has to be managed within the organisation via a formalised management system.
Competence can be defined as being properly qualified and having adequate skills and ability to perform tasks and functions as required by the job. In order to be competent, an individual must: have the ability to perform the task or job; have the ability to take responsibility to perform tasks unsupervised; display the integrity to execute the task successfully; be well motivated to follow set procedures; and be trained to do the task in hand.
An integral part of a competence management system should be periodic reviews to identify if there are any gaps in an individual's competence - perhaps due to internal or external changes - so that action can be taken to rectify any shortcomings. That person's competence should therefore continually develop in line with the requirements of the job. Training therefore plays a core role in this.
Training courses can be a very cost-effective way to provide information where an individual or group needs to increase knowledge in specific areas. For example, the four-day City & Guilds accredited Machinery Safety Course (City & Guilds reference number 1623) available exclusively from Pilz is designed to provide attendees with the knowledge that will help them to demonstrate a level of competency in machinery safety. It is aimed at people who have responsibility for new or existing machinery, including designers, manufacturers, maintenance engineers and engineering/project managers.
Also available is 'An introduction to BS EN 61508:2002 Functional safety of electrical/electronic/programmable electronic safety-related control systems'; this course would be an excellent starting point for individuals working in organisations that are installing and operating machinery with E/E/PES control systems. If all previous experience had been with equipment that had been hard-wired with safety relays, it is most unlikely that the managers, engineers and maintenance staff would have the necessary competence (according to BS EN 61508) to perform their day-to-day tasks with the new equipment.
Pilz Automation Technology can also develop tailored training courses to ensure that theoretical and hands-on training is undertaken in the most effective way possible, either at the Pilz training facilities in Corby, Northamptonshire, or at the customer's premises.
Nevertheless, if a company is unsure of its position in relation to BS EN 61508 and competency management, Pilz can assist with clarifying the situation and identifying any requirements for competency management and/or training. If required, Pilz can then work with the customer to design and implement a competency management scheme and plan a training schedule that is prioritised to suit the customer's needs and budget.