Frequently Asked Questions
Has enforcement of Authorized vs Competent Climber/Rescuer certification requirements changed?
Recently there has been a crackdown from larger GC’s requiring Competent Climbercertifications when working on their sites. Although this has always been the requirement it was often overlooked. The change shocked a lot of companies who didn’t even know there was a difference and had been using Authorized Climber certifications their entire career because they had never been told otherwise.
What is the Difference?
The main difference is that the Authorized Climber/Rescuer designation should only be given to climbers with less than the minimum 90 days climbing experience. Authorized Climber/Rescuers must be under strict supervision from a CompetentClimber/Rescuer at all times while on the tower. Competent Climber/Rescuers are techs that have shown that they understand the information and can display a level of experience that would enable them to safely assist in the rescue of a co-worker in an emergency situation.
How many Competent Climber/Rescuers do we need on site at a time?
A minimum of 2.
If there is an emergency on site that requires a rescue, there must be a Competentperson that is able to conduct the rescue. This eliminates the possibility of working with 1 Authorized climber and 1 Competent Climber because if the CompetentClimber is the one that gets hurt, the Authorized Climber technically isn’t at a level to perform the rescue safely.
What if I still want to certify everyone as Authorized?
Maybe your company works for a Vendor that doesn’t check the full title or potentially the expiry dates of the certification so you have no reason to change it. That’s all well and good while everything is going great but if you happen to have an accident on site, the first thing that the accident investigation workers will come in and ask is “Who is your Competent Person?” “Show me proof of their Competency”. It’s at this point that your whole company will be shut down from ALL work nationwide because you won’t be able to provide these documents. Now you are losing thousands to tens of thousands in revenue every single day scrambling around until you can get your entire company retrained, which if done last second, can also be an expensive event.
So when should I certify someone as Authorized?
The right time to certify someone as an Authorized Climber/Rescuer, is when they have less than the minimum 90 days experience or they fail to perform the rescue scenarios that are required as a Competent Climber/Rescuer. In order for them to get the required hands on experience, tower time while being supervised from an experienced Competent Climber/Rescuer is necessary.
The Authorized vs Competent Designation is an important one, especially as there are more and more new climbers coming into the industry. However the certification should not be used as a way to shave a few bucks off your training invoice since – as we mentioned earlier – you’ll be paying it back 10 fold if someone at your company has an accident.
We hope that this may have answered some questions that you or your company may have been asking. If you would still like to get more information on whether an employee should be Authorized or Competent, please don’t hesitate to reach out!
Do your certs travel with you?
The short answer is no, an employee's certification is not valid after they leave your company, when they are looking for a job, or when they come into your company.
Well there are a few reasons why we at Safety LMS believe they shouldn’t and we will go on to discuss these later in the article. For the main reason that they are not allowed to transfer between companies, we have to refer to OSHA’s standards for Employer Responsibilities, which states that employers “must provide safety training in a language and vocabulary workers can understand.” When an employee comes into your company and has a certification card, or even just says that they have been trained, there is no way for your company to know how well, or with what level of detail they were trained.
What if my employees are using certs that were issued by another company?
The answer goes back to the point we made in our last FAQ newsletter “Authorized vs Competent” that, you’ll likely get away with it if no one checks. BUT, if you are unfortunate to have an accident on site, the first thing that the accident investigation workers will come in and ask is “Who is your Competent Person?” “Show me proof of their Competency”. – This competency must be made under the company they are working for or the investigators are going to treat it like there is no certification at all.
Other reasons for certifications not traveling
We understand that some training can be expensive, which is why we think it’s important to bring our customers the best training every single time that they take a class with us. It's also why we give full rights to the company that trained the employee. Companies that have a great training program and give all of their employees more than just the minimum required training don’t want to be known as a revolving door for training employees where a worker takes a job, planning to just be there long enough to get all of their certs paid for and leave for .25c more an hour. This created higher turnover rates and unnecessarily higher overhead for the companies that are trying to lead by example in the industry.
Climber vs Rescuer – What’s the Difference?
The first confusion we often see is that this certification is known by a few different names, most frequently: “Authorized or Competent Climber/Rescuer”, “Tower Safety and Rescue”, or “Fall Protection” certifications. Secondly, many don’t know that the two different portions of this certification have two different re-certification requirements. The Climber certification and the Rescuer certification must be renewed at different intervals.
Breaking it down, the Competent Climber portion of the course has a 2 year expiration and covers a combined two days of both classroom and “Hands On” training on the tower.
The Competent Rescuer portion of the course has a 1 year expiration and is one day of “Hands On” tower rescue training
The industry mandated standards that lay out the climbing and rescue requirements that workers must follow is the NATE CTS and ANSI Z359 standard.
How to train for the Rescuer Re-certification
There are 2 ways that companies are able to recertify the rescuer certification.
- Just check the boxes and wait until your year is coming up, send your employee through the tower portion of the class, and move on.
- For companies enrolled in the in-house Train the Trainer program may recertify throughout the year. Instead of waiting until the 1 year expiration date comes up to retrain your crews – potentially requiring to shut them all down for a day to do so – make up the time throughout the year. You can do this when you’re on-site waiting for equipment, or when you get to the first job site of the week/month rig up your ropes and run through 2-3 rescues for 15-30 minutes.
As long as you log each time you do this, by the time you get to the end of the year, your team will have done the required 8-16 hours of refresher training. Not only will this cut down the time away from work but running constant refresher training will make sure that your crews are ALWAYS going to be ready and know what to do in the event of an emergency.
Safety LMS recommends that all companies follow this schedule regardless if they have an in-house trainer or not. You can never be too ready for a rescue.
Although a brief outline, we hope that this may help a few companies understand the difference between the 2 courses and what you need to do to stay compliant with all of the certifications required to work in the industry.