Center For Offshore Safety Issues New Guidelines For SEMS Skills Verifications

The Center for Offshore Safety just made public new guidelines to help the oil and gas industry prove that offshore workers know how to do their jobs safely.   The Safety and Environmental Management System (SEMS) rules are very clear in saying oil and gas operators need to verify that all offshore personnel (theirs and contractors) have the skills, knowledge and experience to work safely and effectively.   What has not been clear is how the industry is supposed to accomplish that:

  • Does it mean collecting class certificates?  That doesn’t prove a worker actually learned the material.
  • Does it mean sending a resume?   That shows experience, but doesn’t show how well an individual can do the job.
  • Does it mean sending a letter from the company that says, T-Joe has the skills, knowledge and experience to work safely?”   Seriously?

It is a real problem and many operators are trying to address it by requiring annual worker evaluations from contractors.  But that leaves contractors wondering what kinds of evaluations will be acceptable and leaves operators without a good way to figure out if the evaluations have real meaning.

For the last year the Center for Offshore Safety has been working on industry guidelines to help both operators and contractors.  Those guidelines have now been approved and made public.  They can be found here.    It is important for every contractor to read and understand these guidelines because these could very quickly become customer requirements.

I served as a member of the COS group that worked on the guidelines.  As a participant, I can say that the group members felt these were necessary and within the abilities of every company that works offshore.

But that doesn’t mean it is easy.  Companies will need to commit some time to making sure they are evaluating the right skills and doing it in a way that will survive an audit.

Lifeline Strategies and OQSG, a leader in the pipeline evaluation field,  have developed a program to help contractors.  We call it SEMSReady™.   It involves the options of classes, hands on assistance in developing programs and database management to track employee training and evaluations.    You can read an article that Rigzone ran on our program here.  If you would like more information click or email me at

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