In the Winter issue of Industrial Compliance we carried details of the world’s first CoPC certification. In this issue Sira Certification Service takes a closer look at the details of the training needed to gain competence under the scheme.

In July 2010, IECEx launched the IECEx Certification of Personnel Competence Scheme (CoPC), the world’s first international scheme for the certification of personnel associated with equipment, installations and servicing used by Ex industries (see Industrial Compliance – Winter 2010).

There are two main elements to the scheme – skills and knowledge. Skills are measured by a practical assessment of the candidate undertaking key tasks and by a log of his/her career covering aspects such as experience in the field, past and current roles, and skill sets.

Knowledge is assessed by formal examination, and ten ‘Knowledge Units’ have been devised to test candidates on specific aspects of hazardous area principles. The scheme is designed so that candidates can gain competence in a specific area of expertise relevant to their job role.

For the majority of the units, there are prerequisite units that first must be taken which assess the candidate’s knowledge of basic principles of hazardous areas.

Unit Ex001 is the first place to start and covers the basic principles of protection in explosive atmospheres. Sira has devised training courses to cover the knowledge requirements of these units – to be conducted over several days at the Sira training centre in Chester (running throughout 2011). The courses can also be conducted on-site if required.


The training course for Ex001 covers the explosion protection aspects of plant and machinery operation or maintenance to IEC 60079 and other relevant standards. Delegates will gain the knowledge to aid them to visually identify any damage or deterioration of explosion protected equipment, learn how to monitor equipment and plant in relation to changes in the explosion hazards, and identify risks.

Course content includes:

  • Introduction to the IECEx Competence Scheme.
  • Overview of IEC 60079 and other relevant standards.
  • Properties of flammable materials.
  • Introduction to hazardous areas.
  • Equipment marking.
  • Safety responsibilities.
  • Overview of protection concepts.
  • Flame-proof Ex d.
  • Increased safety Ex e.
  • Intrinsic safety Ex i.
  • Type n.
  • Permits to work.
  • Risk assessment (overview).
  • Management or work performance and procedures.
  • Inspection – visual, close, detailed.
  • Training and competence.

The future of the scheme

The concept of an internationally accepted personnel certification scheme was raised during the IECEx 2005 annual meeting and later acted upon at the IECEx Working Group WG12 (a group which contained 18 industry experts from ten countries, charged to develop the scheme). It has been under development since 2007 and, with the launch of the scheme in July 2010, it provides:

l A single set of rules and procedures.

l A single set of competence outcomes that align with IEC standards, e.g. installation, maintenance, inspection, repair.

As the scheme gathers interest from the major players in the oil and gas industry, it is only a matter of time before industry embraces the scheme as the preferred option for personnel certification.

For more information on the course, and/or details of the other IECEx Competence Units, contact Sira on the details below. In addition, look out for details of the skills element of the scheme later in the year.