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Certificate of Competency (COC)

What Does Certificate of Competency (COC) Mean?

A certificate of competency (COC) also called a certificate of competence, in the context of safety standards, is a certification that establishes that an individual has the abilities necessary to perform a task safely. They are commonly associated with work in construction, mining, and shipping, and other work that requires the use of heavy machinery. In many jurisdictions, COC is awarded by employers to employees or contractors that have successfully demonstrated their competency in a specific task. Other jurisdictions rely on professional training institutions to issue COCs.

Safeopedia Explains Certificate of Competency (COC)

Certificates of competency provide two main functions within an occupational health and safety context. First, they act as a job-specific licensing system that allows an employee to demonstrate their ability to perform a specific task in a specific workplace context. Alternately, they are issued by regulatory agencies to demonstrate that an individual meets the minimum prerequisites necessary to perform a specific job.

The job-specific licensing use of COCs is commonly utilized to certify individuals who work with forklifts and other machinery associated with elevated safety risks. Depending on the jurisdiction and industry, the COC may be provided based solely on participation in a recognized professional training course, or by employer training, or a combination of both.

OSHA does not use COCs as part of its health and safety regulations. Under OSHA, competency is an informal designation, while formal designations of competency are referred to as “qualifications”.

COCs are also commonly used in situations in which there are multiple different ways to meet the competency prerequisites that exist for a given task or job. For example, in Florida, there are numerous ways to qualify for an elevator technician COC. Holding the elevator COC allows an individual to apply to become a Certified Elevator Technician (CET); however, the CET certificate only has a single set of prerequisites. In this context, the COC acts to establish that an individual has met the minimum standards necessary to be considered for the CET.

The use of COCs to demonstrate that an individual has met a minimum standard is common in the marine transport industry, as international conventions require individual nations to ensure that vessels sailing under their flag meet the minimum qualifications necessary to operate safely at sea.


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