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PT Notes

Competency Requirements for Process Safety Auditors

PT Notes is a series of topical technical notes on process safety provided periodically by Primatech for your benefit. Please feel free to provide feedback.

Auditing is a critical aspect of a process safety program, such as the process safety management (PSM) standard promulgated by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Audits provide a periodic check that the program complies with regulatory, industry and/or companyrequirements; reflects current standards; and is implemented properly. Auditors must be competent to ensure quality audits and the selection process for auditors should be demonstrably objective and impartial. This is best accomplished using a defined set of appropriate selection criteria.

Requirements for the competency of lead auditors, team auditors, and audit teams should be established as part of a competency management program. For example, appropriate selection criteria for individual auditors are:

  • Independence
  • Objectivity
  • Education
  • Knowledge and understanding of regulations and standards
  • Technical knowledge and understanding
  • Process safety knowledge and understanding
  • Auditing knowledge, understanding and skills
  • Knowledge and understanding of processes
  • Work and auditing experience
  • Personal attributes

Owing to the importance of the role played by process safety auditors, formal certification of theircompetency against a set of defined criteria is desirable. Certification criteria should include academic qualifications, training, and experience. The certification process should include examination and the provision of references.

Performance metrics should be used to judge the performance of process safety auditors. Missed deficiencies provide a metric for auditor performance. While identifying missed deficiencies is challenging, possible audit deficiencies can be determined in several ways. Citations from regulatory inspections that identify process safety deficiencies may be indicative of a deficiency in auditing. Deficiencies in the process safety program that contributed to an incident also may represent deficiencies in auditing. Furthermore, deficiencies in process safety programs may be discovered when performing work for other process safety elements such as process hazard analysis and process safety information. Also, information on the quality of an audit and thecompetency of auditors can be obtained through comparison of the results of successive audits by different auditors. 

These issues are discussed in greater detail in the article:

Competency requirements for process safety auditorsProcess Safety Progress, Volume 34, Issue 2, pages 179-182, June 2015.

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Auditing Process Safety Management Programs

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