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Competence, Now and in the Future

What role does competence play in your lifting operations? Can you accurately identify how competent your personnel are?

Industry currently has a clearly defined and structured competence process for Slingers, Banksmen, Riggers and Competent Persons. However, there is no process in place for lifting personnel who are required to… 

  • Set standards 
  • Produce and maintain lifting procedures 
  • Interact with suppliers and contractors to ensure that the right equipment is available 
  • Review or audit lifting operations 
  • Verify that personnel have the correct training and competence levels
  • Assure complex lifting operations 
  • Accurately answer technical questions, and…
  • Continually improve lifting performance 

When you consider the responsibilities that go along with the type of heavy, high value lifts that have to be verified and assured by lifting personnel (and the obvious consequences of not getting it right), it makes it all the more surprising that there is no industry standard or development process in place.

The reason for this is partly due to the general perception of lifting. It is often seen as not very technically challenging, and something that anyone can do. Unfortunately, the amount of lifting incidents each year demonstrates that this is far from the truth. It is also common to find that it is given a low priority, and as a job that is added to a person’s primary function. This creates additional problems, as the person may then not have a suitable amount of time to deal with it correctly. In addition, with an acknowledged shortage of skilled lifting personnel, it is difficult to encourage young people to start a career in lifting when there is no clearly defined industry development process. 

Personnel require a high level of technical competence to fulfil this role of verification and assurance, that means a demonstrable understanding of subjects, over and above that which are commonly taught, such as…

  • Equipment certification 
  • Overhead crane, forklift truck and helicopter lifting operations 
  • Winch and pulling operations 
  • Cargo carrying units and cargo handling 
  • Onshore, offshore and marine crane operations 
  • Man-riding and personnel transfers
  • FMEA 
  • Heavy transportation 
  • Subsea lifting operations 
  • Lift planning, hazard identification, risk assessment and auditing 
  • Calculation of load weights, centre of gravity location, reaction forces, sling tensions, stability angles, etc.

NSL has always understood the need for a structured development process that covered the subjects previously mentioned, and that produced the right level of technical competence. We also recognise that companies may have difficulty in finding an individual with all these qualities inside their own organisation. This is why we currently supply personnel to many of the major Oil and Gas Industry Operators.

Our clients also realise that a major benefit of using NSL personnel, is that they are fully supported by NSL’s Technical Department. You could say that when you hire an NSL Specialist you are not just employing one person but a whole department – at no extra cost! 

So, how can you further develop your competence?

If you are a client that needs to develop existing lifting personnel, you can use our Online Assessment and Development Tool. When the assessment has been completed, personnel are directed to the requisite training courses that they need to complete to reach the required level of competence. For new personnel, we can offer our clients a two-year programme, which develops trainees or undergraduates in stages to become Junior Technical Authorities. This is then normally followed by a period of five years working within the company, where they would gain further knowledge and experience before becoming a recognised Technical Authority. If you are a selfsponsored individual who sees the benefits of recognising and developing your competence, you could also complete the online assessment and development tool, which would produce a suitable development programme, based on your assessment results.