6.5.5 Comparison of International Qualifications.

Sometimes, there is a requirement for technicians and engineers from abroad to work in the UK or Ireland or vice versa. Although it is not practical to assess knowledge based on examinations passed or qualifications gained in other countries, a baseline can be established onto which a competence matrix can be populated. It is possible to set criteria for the minimum content for any knowledge-based learning. There are various organisations that can help in comparing the qualifications of individuals across Europe which are listed as follows.

UK NARIC – The National Agency responsible for information, advice, data and informed opinion on qualifications from outside the UK.

ECVET – The National Contact Point for England improving the mobility of those holding vocational qualifications across Europe.

ReferNet – The European Network offering comparable information on Vocational Education and Training across Europe.

Europass – The UK’s National Europass Centre – removing barriers to work and study in Europe.

CPQ – The Centre for Professional Qualifications which provides advice and guidance on professional qualifications and their recognition in the UK, EU and globally.

All these organisations can be found on UK NARIC, website https://www.ecctis.com/.

6.5.6 Competence – Human Factors

Whenever we introduce people into risk management processes, we first have to consider that they sometimes will not behave in the way that we would want them to. We all make mistakes, but sometimes human failure can be deliberate which leads to non-compliance, or it can be inadvertent which leads to errors. Whilst human factors are a huge topic on its own, I have devised some suggestions that may help when managing arc flash risk as follows.

Non-compliance is sometimes a cultural issue, or it can be an individual refusal to follow rules and procedures. In either case, it is a problem that must be faced head on and the reality has to be taken into account when devising risk control measures. Cultural issues are sometimes difficult to change as they inevitably come from the leadership within the organisation. It is at management level where we need to start in changing culture and to get agreement at the highest level through awareness and policy changes. It is then important that the workforce is involved in any changes to procedures which includes any risk control measures for arc flash. This is where awareness of the arcing hazard will be most effective. When and if it gets to protection by PPE, Chapter 7: Protection gives further advice on the involvement of the workforce in the provision of workwear, etc... We can also encourage reporting of non-compliance (violations) to make it unacceptable, akin to drink driving for instance. Where we know that there could be deliberate non-compliance, then targeted audits and raising the likelihood of sanctions must be considered.

In the case of inadvertent errors, we need to be aware of the need for ongoing training and competency assessment. Other factors that may lead to inadvertent errors are distractions and this is where control of the working environment is important, this is dealt with later.

Time pressure and tiredness particularly towards the end of a shift can be a vulnerable time. Another surprising common factor that I have come across on more than one occasion, is carrying out high risk activities out of hours that are on normal days off. Allow me to paint a picture of a non-shift working team who have been brought into work on a Saturday morning. Not wishing to stereotype, maybe Friday night is their usual night out and they will not be as bright on a Saturday morning. Maybe it is the football game on a Saturday afternoon, so the time pressure is self-generated. Their performance would definitely be affected in contrast to if these factors were not in play.

Finally, I think that we also need to always be vigilant about the possibility of morning after intoxication through alcohol or drugs. Not a good mix when working near energised conductors.

6.5.7 Competence – Further Reading

Clearly, the competence of persons involved in live work will vary widely between industries and organisations. For instance, the requirements for someone involved in the manipulation of energised conductors by hot stick or live jointing is hugely different from a maintenance electrician undertaking diagnostic testing on a production line. It is not possible to cover all levels of work and supervision, but I can recommend the following comprehensive guide which was written by experts in live working across Europe. It is available to download free of charge from the International Social Security Association (ISSA) website. Guideline for Assessing the Competence of Persons involved in Live Working published by the International Social Security Association (ISBN-Nr. 3-9807576-6-8).

6.6 New Work and Alterations

There needs to be control over new work and alterations to electrical systems. It is often the case that the design of new installations or additions are left to the discretion of contractors even in medium to large facilities. Paperwork such as test sheets and minor works certificates are often not being handed over or even completed for modified electrical installations. This results in electrical installations that are a mixture of design specifications.

There needs to be a procedure that will ensure that any installation work is properly specified, designed, approved and installed to ensure consistency across the facility. The process will also deal with the inspection and testing, some of which may be on energised equipment and also the completion and handover.