What Does Certificate of Fitness (COF) Mean?
A certificate of fitness (COF) is a document that certifies an individual or organization as being competent to engage in a particular work activity or industrial project.
COFs are issued by government agencies or through government-recognized third parties. They are used for both occupational safety and environmental purposes, to ensure that an activity can be conducted safely and without undue harm to the environment.
Safeopedia Explains Certificate of Fitness (COF)
Certifications of fitness are required for occupations and projects that involve a high risk to employees or the environment.
The Fire Department of New York (FDNY), for instance, regulates the use of a number of safety-sensitive occupations and work activities in New York City. The FDNY issues COFs for various types of dangerous occupations and provides study material, guidance, and tests to applicants to ensure safe use, handling, and storage of dangerous material in the workplace.
The dangerous occupations requiring a COD include:
- Explosives handlers
- Supervisors of dry cleaning facilities
- Fire breathers and fire jugglers
- Supervisors of aerosols
- Fire and emergency drill conductors
Under the New York City Fire Code, a COF is needed to:
- Manufacture, store, handle, use, maintain, inspect, test, or transport certain materials
- Conduct certain operations
- Operate certain facilities
The FDNY Definition of COF
The FDNY defines COF as “A written statement issued by the NYC Fire Department certifying that the person to whom it is issued has passed an examination as to his or her qualifications, or is otherwise deemed qualified to use or supervise the storage, handling, and use of material, conduct or supervise an operation, or supervise a facility for which, such certificate is required by this code or the rules”.
Uses of Certificates of Fitness
The term “Certificate of Fitness” is not internationally standardized. Whether or not an occupation or project requires a COF varies by jurisdiction, as do the requirements of the COF. Further, various jurisdictions may require COF-style certifications but use a different name, such as “certificate of safety.” There are some occupations where the requirement for a COF or equivalent system is relatively universal across jurisdictions.
The FDNY issues COF for individuals to certify their fitness to work in certain occupations. It also provides COF for businesses to certify their fitness to conduct certain types of jobs.
In New Zealand, the term COF is chiefly, but not exclusively, associated with the certification of specific types of commercial vehicles. New Zealand also utilizes a COF scheme to certify the safe operation of offshore petroleum installations.
In Canada, the COF scheme is used to certify offshore drilling installations that require a pre-approved third-party safety consultancy to provide and monitor COF accreditation.
Due to the combination of occupational hazards and physical stress involved, occupational diving is a common task that requires a COF or equivalent certification under a different name.