Introduction to Training and Performance Assurance

ELEMENT OVERVIEW

Training workers and assuring their reliable performance of critical tasks is one of nine elements in the RBPS pillar of managing risk. In the context of process safety management systems, this chapter describes the meaning of training, the attributes of a good training system, and the steps an organization might take to implement a robust training program. Section 14.2 describes the key principles and essential features of a management system for this element. Section 14.3 lists work activities that support these essential features, and presents a range of approaches that might be appropriate for each work activity, depending on perceived risk, resources, and organizational culture. Sections 14.4 through 14.6 include (1) ideas for improving the effectiveness of management systems and specific programs that support this element, (2) metrics that could be used to monitor this element, and (3) issues that may be appropriate for management review.

What Is It?

Training is practical instruction in job and task requirements and methods. It may be provided in a classroom or workplace, and its objective is to enable workers to meet some minimum initial performance standards, to maintain their proficiency, or to qualify them for promotion to a more demanding position. Performance assurance is the means by which workers demonstrate that they have understood the training and can apply it in practical situations. Performance assurance is an ongoing process to ensure that workers meet performance standards and to identify where additional training is required.

Why Is It Important?

A consistently high level of human performance is a critical aspect of any process safety program; indeed, a less than adequate level of human performance will adversely impact all aspects of operations. Without an adequate training and performance assurance program, a facility can have no confidence that work tasks will be consistently completed to minimum acceptable standards, in accordance with accepted procedures and practices.

Where/When Is It Done?

Training takes place both in the workplace and the classroom, and it should be completed before a worker is allowed to work independently in a specific job position. Refresher training is provided on an ongoing basis thereafter as needed. Ideally, training is based on needs analyses that define the minimum acceptable knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) required for a worker in a specific position. These analyses also include any requirements imposed by regulations, codes, industry standards, or company policies. The training program should then be developed to bridge the gap between what is demanded of a qualified job applicant (e.g., basic reading and writing skills) and what is required to succeed in a specific job. The performance assurance system then tests the trained workers initially, and periodically thereafter, to demonstrate that they possess the required KSAs and are qualified to work independently.

Who Does It?

Each work group should define the KSAs necessary to work successfully in their department. A human resources group often manages the overall process because it affects hiring, job placement, and retention
decisions. A department or designated individual(s) usually plans and coordinates training activities. The training itself is typically conducted by subject matter experts (SMEs) or outside specialists who have been trained and qualified as trainers. Qualified peers, trainers, managers, human resource personnel, or third parties, depending on the exact nature of the testing, may conduct performance assurance testing.

What Is the Anticipated Work Product?

The output of this activity is a set of job performance standards and a list of initial and ongoing training needs for each job position. A set of training materials should be developed for each training need that will be met by internal resources. For other training needs, a list of approved suppliers should be developed. A training record should be provided for each worker showing that person’s training needs, the dates on which initial training and any refresher training was satisfactorily completed, and a schedule of future training classes. In addition, the work group should document an appropriate approach for verifying performance and provide examiners with the resources (model tests, observation checklists, etc.) necessary to test workers. Outputs of the training element can also be used to facilitate the performance of other elements. For example, teaching employees about company history will reinforce the culture element, and teaching employees to recognize hazards will improve the risk, management of change, and operations elements.

How Is It Done?

To develop an effective set of training materials, start by identifying the jobs and tasks that must be performed. Once the tasks are identified, determine the KSAs for personnel who will be assigned to perform the task, and the KSAs of individuals qualified to apply for the job. Then identify the gaps and develop or procure training materials and programs that will enable workers to achieve the required KSAs. Also, use the list of required KSAs to develop testing methods that will reasonably ensure that workers have the required performance competencies. Finally, validate the training approach and develop acceptable norms for new workers by testing workers who are currently considered qualified.