Functional Safety Competence Management



Build your safety competence step by step

Are the employees and contractors who interact with your safety systems from concept design through to operation and maintenance, qualified and competent to carry out their work?

Competence management is required by functional safety standards such as IEC61511, IEC61508, IEC62061, ISO13849, EN50126, and is also applicable for ATEX and other standards. Senior management therefore bear a serious legal responsibility to ensure that any person responsible for activities related to a safety system provides evidence to substantiate competence.  This competence should relate not just to the technology they are working with, but also the theory and application of the functional safety standards and domain specific aspects. 

Functional safety is a discipline distinctly different from occupational health and safety, and companies should not mistakenly conclude that their OH&S personnel are automatically competent to offer the right advice.  

Determining the competence required for each function or activity, and assessing individuals against those competence criteria is the first step in ensuring your staff is suitably qualified for their work activities. 

Functional Safety Management – Competence

These competence types should be assessed to ensure competence appropriate to persons role in the safety lifecycle. For more information, move your cursor to the field.

Competency management

HIMA experts can help set up your competency management system and assess the competence of your personnel. Each position, whether technician, engineer, manager or contractor/supplier requires different core competencies.  Once personnel competencies (and gaps) are determined, we can work with you to develop a plan to address those competency gaps, including mentoring and training.

Using HIMA’s safety knowledge leaves you free to focus on what you do best.

Training to fill gaps in Functional Safety knowledge

Our highly regarded functional safety training courses meet the needs of board members, managers, engineers and technicians. Training courses range from half-day introductory classes, to two-day classes for technicians involved in operating and maintaining safety-related systems, to courses for engineers seeking TÜV certification. Instruction is offered in publicly available courses or can be customized and conducted at your facility.

HIMA also offers a mentoring program to support your staff with their functional safety program on an ongoing basis.

List of available courses:


Please get in touch with us to arrange customized dates.


Functional Safety Competence Management System

The steps below provide a brief outline to developing a Functional Safety Competency Management System:

1. Define the safety lifecycle phases the operation is involved in.

e.g. Organisation is  involved in safety lifecycle phase 1 – Hazard and Risk Assessment

2. Identify the safety critical tasks carried out within each phase.

e.g. Task 1 - Identify hazards using HAZOP

3. Allocate each safety critical task to a job role. Identify the personnel in those job roles.

Hint: it may be helpful to link this to job specifications when recruiting

4. For each task, develop the required competency criteria.

e.g. define the required underpinning knowledge, underpinning understanding, technical and behavioural skills

5. Instigate process for collating and evaluating evidence for each job role.

  • Consider employee self assessments, and interviews
  • Ensure those evaluating competency are competent to do so

6. Address competency gaps.

  • Immediate actions to address competency gaps might include re-allocation of project resources based on competencies
  • Longer term strategies to address gaps may include supervising and mentoring those carrying out safety critical Tasks

7. Periodically review of personnel competency.

  • Ensure personnel's experience remains relevant and up to date
  • Ensure new hires are assessed
  • Hint: integrating into organisations other competency management systems may help ensure reviews and audits are scheduled

8. Periodically audit of the competency process.

  • Is the organisation still operating in the same lifecycle phases?
  • Are all safety critical tasks covered?
  • Is the competency criteria still valid?
  • Is the evidence being collected sufficient?
  • Is the evidence evaluation robust?