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Certificate of Fitness (COF)

Definition - What does Certificate of Fitness (COF) mean?

A certificate of fitness (COF) is a document that certifies an individual or organization as being fit or competent to engage in a particular work activity or industrial project. They are issued by government agencies or through government-recognized third parties.

COFs are used for both occupational and environmental health and safety purposes to ensure that an activity can be conducted safely and without undue environmental pollution.

Occupations and projects for which a COF is needed are those which pose a high risk to employees, their surrounding environment, or both.

Safeopedia explains Certificate of Fitness (COF)

Certificates of fitness are a form of professional competence verification that place particular emphasis on occupational and environmental health and safety. A COF may apply to either an individual employee or to an installation or facility from which employees will be working. For instance, the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) regulates the use of a number of safety-sensitive occupations and work activities in New York City. These include explosives handler, supervisor of a dry cleaning facility, fire breathers and fire jugglers, supervisor of aerosols, and fire and emergency drill conductor.

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”. 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. This is similar to the COF scheme used in Canada to certify offshore drilling installations, which requires a pre-approved third-party safety consultancy to provide and monitor COF accreditation.

There are some occupations where the requirement for a COF or equivalent system is relatively universal across jurisdictions. 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.
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