The manufacture and use of explosives, propellants and pyrotechnics underpins a significant part of the European Union economic and industrial activity. An understanding of explosives science and technology and the competence to harness it is central to maintaining European explosives capability, national security, and in sustaining a competitive European industry.
There is a perception and some evidence, that in Europe, competence levels in this key technological area are being eroded. In several member nations a high proportion of the most experienced and knowledgeable personnel are retiring or nearing retirement. Urgent efforts are therefore underway in some partner nations to replenish this expertise. 2003 Sweden together with United Kingdom, Norway, Finland and Italy started a Leonardo Da Vinci programme to develop a comprehensive framework which describes and categorizes the competences
of all workers engaged in the manufacture or use of explosives.
Examining the cause of explosive accidents often reveals that human error or failure is a major contributory factor. Effective explosives safety depends on people making the right decisions at the right time. It depends upon people having the necessary competence to carry out their jobs properly. The concept of competence is well recognised in EU safety management. Much of EU safety legislation calls for “competent people” in roles that affect safety. In the case of explosives, this will be in all stages of life, from the formulation of new explosives in the laboratory, through manufacture, storage, transportation, use and disposal.
However in several European countries a high proportion of the most experienced and knowledgeable personnel in the explosives industry are retiring or nearing retirement. It is therefore necessary to replenish this expertise in this key technology area.
Within the limits of the Leonardo programme the pilot project has developed a comprehensive framework which will describe and categorise all of the competencies of workers engaged in the manufacture or use of explosives. The competencies will be underpinned by a training and education programme which will identify the curriculum of subjects and topics and knowledge necessary to generate and develop the competencies. A range of products including workbased learning programmes, e-learning packages using both the Internet and CD-ROM, and conventional teaching materials has been developed and trialled in partner nations. The EUExcert programme is now expanding and a network and cluster are formed on EUExNet