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GROWING GLOBAL EMPHASIS ON THE NEED FOR BETTER FUNCTIONAL SAFETY COMPLIANCE

Importance of Functional Safety Training and Certification

Organisations across industries worldwide are expected to produce safe products and establish a secure working environment. This can be achieved by looking at foreseeable hazards that could occur and by devising mechanisms to deal with such hazards. While every company has risks and liabilities with such hazards, a company’s true nature stands out in the way they approach to control these hazards. This approach is formulated by international regulatory bodies that employers and employees follow in tandem, wherein the regulations depend on the nature of work an organisation performs. Working together hand in hand, an organization can look at achieving functional safety for every entity involved. This leads us to the topic of functional safety compliance.

So, what is functional safety-compliance?

Before we dwell on functional safety compliance, it is important to understand the context and definitions of different aspects that constitute functional safety. Safety can be first defined as being free from any unacceptable risk that could cause damage to one’s health or cause physical harm. This could be caused either directly or indirectly from damage to property or the environment. Risk on the other hand, can be defined as the amalgamation of the severity of harm that can be caused, and the probability of harm being caused.

Functional safety can then be defined as the process of achieving the “absence of unwanted/unreasonable risk that is caused by hazards which take place due to malfunctioning of programmable/electrical/electronic systems.” Functional safety is a pivotal part of the overall safety that ensures a system or equipment is operating appropriately to the inputs.

Failure in an operation can either be a Systematic Failure which can be eliminated only by changing the operational or manufacturing process, design and procedures; or can be a Random HW Failure which can occur at any point, unpredictably, during the lifetime of the process.

Now that we have addressed the basics, let us define functional safety compliance. Functional safety compliance can be defined as the combination of a different set of activities that are required across the functional safety lifecycle phases of a process or a product, which are necessary for attaining the requisite functional safety. These sets of procedures are specific to people, departments, and organisations, wherein every entity is responsible for the safety lifecycle phase. In simple words, functional safety is a part of the overall safety that depends on a system or equipment operating correctly in response to its inputs.

What are Functional Safety Standards?

Safety-critical industries need to comply with safety standards pertaining to their industrial sector. Here is a list of a few Functional Safety Standards associated with different Industries.

IEC 61508: Functional safety of electrical/electronic/programmable electronic safety-related systems
ISO 26262: Automotive
IEC 61511: Process Industry
IEC 62304: Medical Devices
EN 50126, EN 50128, EN 50129: Railway Applications (Signaling and Rolling Stock)
ISO 25119: Agriculture

Why is functional safety management important in this day and age?

There is a certain degree of risk in every activity that is undertaken, and as a society, we look at mitigating and dealing with these risks in different ways. Sometimes we deal with these risks by ensuring the environment we are in, reduces the risk to a tolerable level. Similarly, in an organization to maintain the right working environment with minimal risk, three different entities come together – viz. people, paperwork, and procedures.

When people are trained to deal with the worst situations, they can be the first respondents to any adversity. This is done by assigning roles, responsibilities, and training to ensure every individual is competent in taking up a designated role or responsibility. Paperwork entails all the record-keeping and documentation of every process across every phase. Procedures include testing and re-testing the set procedures to find possible lapses and solutions to counter them accordingly.

Moreover, multiple industries deal with complex systems that multiply the risk that is present. In the automotive industry for example, there are numerous individuals involved, right from the parts of an automotive being manufactured until the point in time it is retired. To ensure every single step is functionally safe in every aspect, functional safety and related risk management system is adhered to throughout the development process.

This includes: 

• Requirements specification
• Design
• Implementation
• Integration
• Verification
• Validation
• Configuration

Functional safety when implemented appropriately can greatly improve the safety and quality of the product/s. One can also see lesser maintenance issues in the operations, with seamless integration of the right functional safety techniques.

Rising demand for functional safety-certified systems

Owing to the risks that functional safety management mitigates, it is not surprising to see functional safety-certified systems becoming pivotal for organizations. Moreover, organizations are acknowledging how the implementation of regulatory measures across functional safety can proportionately lead to growth. This has led to different governments making it mandatory for different industries to implement functional safety measures within the organizations. Owing to these requirements, there has been a steady rise in the market for functional safety systems, predominantly across oil and gas plants along with manufacturing, power, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and petrochemical industries. This growth can also be seen in the latest market research on functional safety where the sector was worth USD 4.6 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach USD 7.1 billion by 2024.

But, how can one implement ‘safety culture’ in an organisation?

Implementing a safety culture in one’s organisation is just half the work. The other half is in putting that culture into practice. That can only happen once every individual in the organisation is informed and is continuously learning. This practice ensures that employees analyze incidents and learn from near accidents before they become a full-blown disaster. It is also imperative to have a culture that focuses on transparency and openness where one can report any hurdle without any fear.

Safety culture in an organisation stands on 6 pillars, which are: 

• Personal accountability 
• Performance management 
• Co-worker support 
• Organizational commitment 
• Worker involvement 
• Management’s commitment to safety 

These 6 pillars can function seamlessly only when safety leadership, effective communication, continuous learning, and employee motivation take place, amongst every individual that is involved.

Functional Safety Training in India

Functional safety training is imperative across every organisation, irrespective of the country they are present in. The objective of the training is to to mentor the engineers for functional safety and adhere the techniques and methods in accordance with the standard for the compliance. This concept is a part of the overall safety system, covering everything from processes to operation of equipments, to finding corrective mechanisms to reduce risks and failures.
Functional safety training helps organisations meet regulatory requirements while operating safely to deliver the requisite results. At a time when attaining cross-disciplinary knowledge is a must to achieve maximum reliability, safety, and quality, employers must take it upon themselves to train and certify their employees in functional safety to meet the challenging demands of the market.

TÜV SÜD supports organisations in this aspect by providing functional safety training courses to professionals in different categories, specific to the industry and ones that comply with even the international standards. Functional safety certification also helps organisations in attaining competitive advantage, improving confidence and satisfaction amongst customers.

The functional safety training and certification program by TÜV SÜD provides a holistic understanding that examines and offers certification to those who want to expand their knowledge and competence in the field of operations. This comes in three levels, where Level 1 covers complete overview of the standard which enables engineer/s to understand various aspects of product development at Concept, System, Hardware and Software level. Level 2 covers Proficiency level, which evaluates the engineers’ capability and makes them become a reviewer, Level 3 is an Expert level, which enables engineers to perform confirmation review, audit and assessment... TÜV SÜD offers functional safety certification programs that are in accordance with ISO 26262, IEC 61511, IEC 61508, EN 50126, EN 50128 and EN 50129 standards. This helps individuals with pertinent safety knowledge and best practices making the certification program indispensable in the present day and age.

Get in touch with us to learn more about our Functional Safety Training Programs.

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