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Published: 20th February 2024

Industry leaders launch major new skills study for COMAH sites

A group of leading experts has launched a major study into managing process safety in high-hazard industrial sites.

Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) regulated industries include critical sectors such as chemical manufacturing, utilities, oil and gas, energy production and distribution. Emerging low-carbon industries like hydrogen, carbon capture and new nuclear technologies are also increasing the demand for process safety expertise.

The study, launched by Cogent Skills – the UK’s leading skills body for science and technology – on behalf of the COMAH Strategic Forum aims to:

  • Identify and adopt an appropriate benchmark for process safety practice
  • Conduct a skills gap analysis
  • Identify available resources and support required to bridge any gaps
  • Propose actions to address where there are no resources currently available

Having already identified an appropriate framework against which to benchmark good practice, establishing the parameters of the research and drawn up an engagement plan for regulatory bodies, the group is now seeking a suitable research partner to support the engagement of industry.

The research will map out the market for process safety expertise, including capacity and capability shortages in the private sector and public regulatory bodies. Addressing how potential skills shortages affect process safety management, operational efficiency and safety compliance will help build an empirical understanding of the skills challenges in industry — crucial for developing robust strategies for tackling them.

CEO of Cogent Skills, Justine Fosh, said: “The critical nature of our high-hazard industries and the impact on public and environmental safety means these issues are of paramount importance. However, they remain largely undiagnosed.

“There are many anecdotes and much received wisdom around this issue, however this research will provide a robust evidence base for the development of an effective, sector-wide strategy to tackle them and ensure staff and our environment are kept as safe as possible in the future.”

Acting Director of Chemicals, Explosives & Microbiological Hazards Division at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Max Walker, commented: “It’s vital that employers can access the process safety skills and knowledge needed to manage risks within high hazard industries.

“This important research will help assess our current skills capability and capacity whilst supporting industry to develop practical actionable measures that address key skills challenges. Skills play a key role in creating safe and productive working environments.”

To discuss the research in more depth, please contact: [email protected]

Future Ready

Cogent Skills is sector based, working with companies from across the Science and Technology Industries embracing Life Sciences, Industrial Sciences and Nuclear.
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