University of Hull developing “real-world” process safety skills

The School of Engineering at the University of Hull is providing second year students with practical training to help them develop “real-world” process safety experience prior to entering the workforce, according to senior lecturer David Sowden.

Mr Sowden was speaking shortly after the final bell rang for chemical engineering students who attended hands-on process safety training with Reynolds Training Services.

“Students need to have real-world experience,” he said, explaining why the University’s School of Engineering had partnered with an external safety provider. “Engineering students tend to learn better if they are doing. They are effectively taking the theory from the module and applying it with RTS.”

The partnership, which is in its second year, comes against the backdrop of a shift in the regulatory landscape. Speaking earlier in the year, Health and Safety Executive chair Judith Hackitt said the time had come for leaders in the high hazard sector “to do something”.

Mr Sowden believed embedding a greater understanding of process safety at a grassroots level could play a key role in the drive to cultivate safer sites.

In doing so, lecturers at the School of Engineering were “perfectly placed” to impart students with theoretical “facts and figures” but many, he considered, didn’t have “direct experience” in the sector.

“What we cannot do – as many of our staff haven’t been in the industry – is give the real training experience in the sector,” he said. “We can thrash out the theory and the process safety regulations but what we can’t do is talk from real anecdotal experience about doing the job.”

A “proactive” approach to process safety

Reynolds Training Services managing director, John Reynolds, agreed that a marriage between theoretical studies and hands-on experience held the potential to produce a forward-thinking workforce.

“The conversation across regulators, industry and trainers has rightly shifted towards the need for preventative safety,” he explained. “Process safety is all about putting the right systems in place to stop an incident before it happens or, should the layers of protection fail, containing the fallout.”

“The partnership with the School of Engineering at the University of Hull gives us the opportunity to embed this kind of proactive thinking and awareness in the minds of young students.”

“As such,” he added, “we are able to stimulate a top-down and bottom-up culture change in industry, focusing both on those already in the sector and those preparing to enter it.”

The intake of 2015 got involved in classroom sessions, workshops and practical onsite training at Inter Terminals’ west and east sites in Immingham.

Going forward, Mr Sowden said the School of Engineering was now looking at introducing practical training for first year students to give them quicker exposure to the coal-face of the industry.

“These students are the chemical engineers of the future,” he said. “It is therefore vital they have this knowledge so they appreciate the hazards and requirements of the industry.”

With the impending COMAH regulations on the industrial horizon, Mr Sowden confirmed that the University and Reynolds Training Services were exploring ways to modify training programmes inline with the changes.


Notes to editors:

More about University of Hull

The University of Hull provides a cutting-edge educational experience for over 18,000 students a year. The academic portfolio contains 50 disciplines across the arts and humanities, business, education, health, the sciences and the social sciences.

As one of the major players in the regeneration of Hull and Scarborough, the University also has a significant impact on local economic and social growth.

For more information visit University of Hull


More about RTS

Reynolds Training Services is a leading provider of specialist safety training and consultancy to the petroleum and petrochemical industries and wider world of work. The company has a long history of helping employers, staff and individuals exceed workplace health and safety legal requirements.

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Tel: 01469 552 845

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