Development and Application of Process Safety Competency Framework in Agroindustry – Case Study | AIChE

Development and Application of Process Safety Competency Framework in Agroindustry – Case Study


Peron, G., Cargill

Purpose - Competency can be explained as a combination of knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes necessary to perform effective work. With this definition in mind, the Process Safety Competency Framework has the goal to provide the knowledge and skills for people at an organization at different levels, so they will have a higher probability of making better decisions and act with improved attitudes to manage the hazards present in the process, both in planned situations and abnormal situations.

The implementation of the Process safety competency framework in one organization allows the sustainment of culture because enables proactive learning.

This is more relevant in an environment where we are facing nowadays changing from the VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity e Ambiguity), which was not easy to manage, to a BANI (Brittle, Anxious, Nonlinear, Incomprehensible) that is even harder to manage. It means that organizations are in constant change, need to deal with lots of complexities, and are very brittle as the pandemic showed us. In this complex environment, companies need to have a strong culture to keep succeeding in their business.

The goal of this article is present a case study of the development and application of a Process Safety Competency Framework in a global Agroindustry and provide examples of methodologies using andragogy and the 70, 20, 10% methodology of learning.

Methods – The development started with a review of the core competencies essential in the organization to better manage hazards and prevent unmanaged risks arising from process. Competencies were defined based on major process hazards presents in the company and CCPS reference. Then the expected proficiency levels were developed for different roles in the organization.

The results for each role in organization were illustrated in a matrix with the process safety Competencies on one side and proficiency level on the other side. The matrix describes the expected minimum level of proficiency by element and was used as base to develop the learning journey.

The prioritization considered the most relevant competencies to create a process safety culture and the competencies more relevant to prevent major events. This priorization criteria was then mapped to the level of gap of knowledge.

The competencies selected to be develop primarily were: Process safety Leadership training, Process safety awareness knowledge, Combustible Dust and Management of Change.

Other prioritization was mapped to the roles at the company that were identified as high priority. Four roles were identified as high priority: EHS Team, Operational and Maintenance leaders (Managers and Supervisors) and Operational technical team (process, production, project and maintenance engineers and SMEs).

After the competencies were defined and prioritized, the process safety experts began the development of learning content in coordinate of our Learning and Development team. This step was performed using andragogy, neuroscience concepts and 70, 20,10% methodology in a combination of self learning, virtual learning, coach sessions and learning from practice. The material was developed in three languages; Portuguese, Spanish and English. Using local language was a essential to eliminate learning barriers that a different language can generate.

This approach was developed in beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, so the importance to create attractive content to be used in a self-learning approach was very relevant. Besides, there virtual learning in live sessions was used to minimize the impact of social distance.

The company has a platform where contents like videos, articles, tests can be organized like a learning pathway. It helps to guide the users thought the learning plan, provide a holistic vision of the steps of learning journey and also provide tracking of evolution.

Taking advantage of this platform, Process Safety experts have developed short and focused content that is attractive to that the learner remains focused. Most contents uses short videos that last between 3 to 15 minutes. It is important to thinking how to design the content so that it helps the learner stay engaged during the training. It means, instead of having a heavy PowerPoint presentation of hours to talk about Management of change, for example, the same content would be delivered in some short videos delivering the same knowledge. It is important to provide a diversity of media to deliver the content because our learners absorb material in diversity ways.

The contents were also created using actual situations and routine subjects so that it is relevant to the learner so they can better associate and recognize the importance. The methodology was very important to transform a technical and complicated subject in an simplified learning activity that is appealing to enhance the engagement of the learner.

Once the development of contents were completed, it was the time to defined a plan of implementation in Latin America region with considerations for differences in business, sites and countries. The differences in culture and maturity of understanding process safety and language were all challenge to overcome.

The plan was created to start with at least 30% of the region including the more complex sites with considerations given to number of people, types of hazardous process, and the presence of combustible dust hazards.

The next step was apply the training for the sites and roles selected using the 70, 20,10% methodology in a combination of self-learning, virtual learning, coach sessions and learning from practice. Each Process Safety team member was responsible to guide the groups along the year on the different training in accordance to the planning, acting as coach. This not only improved the competency of the operations team but the process safety leaders also improved as they taught each of the topics.

Conclusion - The implementation of the PSRM competency framework brought clarity about the company’s expectations regarding process safety knowledge and skills necessary for each position in the company enabling them to perform with a high level of excellence.

With the expectations defined it provided people a way to make a self-assessment and evaluate their own learning journey. The framework and online training provide a consistent model for the organization to allow a high level of autonomy for learning and provide a system that is scalable for a large organization in order to accelerate the increase of process safety competency.

The leadership of a company are responsible to create a proper culture to set the people up for successful performance, and be aware the main hazards that are present in the process they manage. Then understand the main consequences and what controls are necessary to manage these risks. The implementation of the PSRM Leadership training provided this knowledge to the leaders in a sustainable way. During the certification process, the leaders could provide feedback that were very positive because lot of concepts that the training brought was unaware for them, so they not put focus on that.

EHS team usually has more expertise on Safety and Environment less on health and even less on Process Safety so provide them Process Safety awareness knowledge, Management of Changes and Combustible Dust training resulted in a team more prepared to support the sites to manage hazards.

Increase the competency of technical team helped them to better support the implementation and sustainment of process safety elements in their sites and also consider design intrinsically safer in projects and also consider barriers and safeguards since the beginning of the projects.

A way to measure the impact of the PSRM Competency Framework was the number of register of pro-active PSE like Tier 3 and Tier 4. After the implementation of the first wave of process safety competency framework the number of Tier 3 and Tier 4 events increased in 78%. The number of closed recommendations from PHA studies closed in 66%.

This results illustrate the impact of knowledge in establish a culture that start to change. It reinforce the importance to keep working on learning and development to keep advance on all pillars of Process Safety.

Because of this expressive results, it was possible to extend the application of PSRM Competency Framework globally with the same format and methodology.


This paper has an Extended Abstract file available; you must purchase the conference proceedings to access it.


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