Understanding Competent, Qualified and Certified Persons!
In the crane industry we hear the terms competent, qualified and certified. Sometimes used almost interchangeably. However, they have very different implications.
OSHA 29 CFR 1926.1400 requires riggers and signalpersons to be qualified persons. Certification for these employees is still optional, but recommended. Crane operators working in construction must be qualified or certified, but by November 10, 2014 all crane operators working in construction must be certified.
What is the difference between a competent person, a qualified person or a certified person? Let’s look at the definitions from OSHA 29 CFR 1926.1400 and 29 CFR 1910. ASME B30 volumes contain similar definitions.
Crane Industry Defines Competent, Qualified and Certified Persons
“Competent Person means one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.”
Well what does all this mean? Let’s suppose for example that you are the storekeeper at your shop with responsibility for assigning rigging gear. If you are capable of recognizing that a sling has been damaged and you also have the authority to remove it from service, you could be considered a competent person, regardless of experience or training. It is unlikely that you would be qualified without training or experience in rigging gear inspection or as part of a rigger training.
In general, a person who has knowledge relative to the situation and authority to take corrective measures will be a competent person under this definition.
“Qualified Person means a person who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training and experience, successfully demonstrated the ability to solve/resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project.”
To explain qualified person we need to break down definition. A recognized degree in structural engineering may indicate that a person is qualified to analyze a boom deficiency for example. A degree in a non-related field would not. A certificate of training, would have to be in a related field to be an indication of qualification. A certificate of crane operator training may not prove that a person is a qualified rigger.
A journeyman rigger with 25 years of experience may have learned the trade from more experienced riggers over time without any formal rigger training, and yet he may well demonstrate the ability to solve problems associated with rigging and therefore be a qualified rigger.
A “Certified Person” is one who has passed stringent written and practical exams related to the work that he will perform. OSHA requires the organization providing the examinations be accredited by an accrediting agency such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Certification testing for crane operators, riggers and signalpersons are offered by accredited organizations including the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) and others. Becket Training & Consulting offers training and testing for candidates pursuing NCCCO certification.