Standards in this area have been subject to change in recent years and have also seen some controversy. It is especially important to consider how hazardous areas are designated and managed, including how to instil and demonstrate staff competence.
The need for training and competency in this area was brought into stark relief by the Cullen Enquiry into the 1988 Piper Alpha disaster, which resulted in the deaths of 167 oil rig workers. Considered the world's worst oil rig disaster, the enquiry's recommendations led to a revolution in safety practices in hazardous areas.
Training for hazardous areas is provided by CompEx, an international scheme that validates and certifies personnel who work in explosive atmospheres. It operates a network of training sectors and works across sectors as varied as oil and gas, pharmaceuticals and food manufacturing.
The CompEx scheme has operated for over 30 years, beginning with oil and gas, and now spanning a range of sectors. It offers a large number of competency qualifications for a broad range of engineering roles.