What is CompEx & why did it come into being?

This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster that took place in the North Sea on July 6, 1988; 167 lives were lost that day.

Credit: National Geographic

A 13-month investigation took place in order to determine the cause of the disaster and to ensure that it never happened again. (Source: The Hon. Lord Cullen, The Public Inquiry into the Piper Alpha Disaster. The Department of Energy. Vol 1-2. November 1990). The inquiry resulted in 106 recommendations for changes to North Sea safety procedures, all were accepted by the industry.


As elucidated on the CompEx webpage (https://www.compex.org.uk), the CompEx Scheme was initiated in 1993 as a direct result of this investigation, its mandate is to raise the level of safety in potentially explosive working environments. It is the recognised global scheme for the protection of oil, gas and chemical workers in both offshore and onshore activities. The scheme assesses the competency of employees and contract staff who are working in potentially explosive environments. It also offers some reassurance to employers managing the safety of these potentially hazardous workplaces and may provide the added benefit of reducing insurance costs.


The CompEx Scheme was developed by the Engineering Equipment and Materials Users’ Association (EEMUA), industry experts and JT Limited. JT Limited, the CompEx Certification Body, is internationally accredited by UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) to ISO/IEC 17024: 2012 Conformity Assessment – ‘General Requirements for bodies operating Certification of Persons’.


The CompEx modules are recognised by industry as a sound methodology for proving core competence of the workforce engaged in Hazardous area work. This work can include the installation, commissioning and inspection of electrical, instrumentation and mechanical equipment which is often designed specifically for use in industries such as off-shore, petrochemical, pharmaceutical and dust environments such as sugar, flour and chip (oriented-strand) board.

The Piper Alpha tragedy is one that is often quoted in the literature as being an example “… of what happens when production, schedule, and cost come before investments in comprehensive system safety

(Source: NASA Safety Center, System Failure Case Study. May 2013 Volume 7 Issue 4).