What is Competency

Many employers and employees ask me what competency in training or a skill means. A short explanation is Competence is having the knowledge, skills & ability to carry out the activity.
Maintaining competence requires using the knowledge & skills (i.e. experience) and may require periodic refresher training. Evidence showing that competence is being maintained may include logbooks, job reports, reassessment certificates, etc.

Some training has a validity period and requires reassessment at specified periods, e.g. Apply First Aid requires recertification every 3 years.
Other training does not have a retraining period specified, but you must still have evidence confirming that competence is being maintained. An example of this is confined space training for which a validity period is not specified in legislation.

In these cases, the period between retraining can generally be determined by either of the following: –

  • The organisation specifies a period as their requirement, so if you are their employee or if you are a contractor working on their asset, then you must complete retraining at the period specified by them. Many companies specify that they require any person working in confined spaces owned or controlled by them must complete a refresher course or reassessment of competence every year, 2 years or 3 years.
  • If no period is specified by the organisation you work for, then the period should be based on the regularity of use of the knowledge and skills. In other words, the more you use the knowledge and skills, the longer you may be able to stretch the period between refresher training / reassessment.

For confined space training, due to the generally high risk, the period between retraining should not exceed 3 years. Hopefully it will never happen, but if there is an incident or accident, the employer must be able to prove and justify their training regime If you are contracting your services to someone then I recommend that you check with them as they may require specific proof regarding refresher course qualifications and existing competency levels.

I hope this helps.

Margaret Lewis.

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