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By Nicholas Sheble
“Nearly all process plant accidents are the result of some kind of human error,” said Todd Stauffer, “and it’s that error that certification aims to eliminate.”

Stauffer heads safety consultancy exida’s training and certification division. He talked about on the areas of human error that contributed to the safety incidents — process design, hazard and operability studies, operating procedures, training and human factors, and inspections during an exida webcast last week.

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“The only way to eliminate accidents is to have a competent person at the controls. How do you know a person is competent? Only by measuring their knowledge against a known standard, body of knowledge,” Stauffer said.

ISA – The International Society of Automation, TUV Rheinland North America | TÜV Rheinland, and exida are the Big Three of the safety certification and certificate-granting entities in North America and Europe. As well, South Asia, South America, and Asia are more closely toeing the safety line as world standards, ethics, and a deeper sense of social responsibility take root in the emerging markets. Thus, the market for safety standards and expertise is expanding.

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Engineers at TÜV SÜD and exida developed the CFSE (Certified Functional Safety Expert) and CFSP (Certified Functional Safety Practitioners, a lighter version of the CFSE) concepts with the support of other international safety experts to ensure that personnel performing SIS (Safety Instrumented Systems) lifecycle activities are competent as the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) requires by its IEC 61508, 61511, and 62061 standards.

Exida administers the program and issues certificates. Some companies now require CFSE holders to oversee safety projects and CFSP holders to execute them. Exida said the CFSE program is the most stringent in the world and represents the best demonstration of safety competency in the world.

Stauffer also touched on exida’s new Specialty Badge program, which will offer training in specific areas of safety, electives in safety, and a new cyber-security program – the ICSSE (Industrial Control Systems Security Expert).

The latter certification will delve into the fundamentals, relationships, and distinct differences between ubiquitous IT (information technology) and the more esoteric ICS (industrial control systems). Networking basics and industrial networking will also be a part of this undertaking.
Nicholas Sheble ( is an engineering writer and technical editor in Raleigh, NC.

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