Competent worker training general requirements: Taking the manual approach



By Paul Fooks

Special to Ottawa Construction News

I will begin with the caveat that I cannot discuss all trades and qualifications or certifications but will focus on the core general requirements that all workers require. All workers must be deemed competent.

By definition from the 213/91 Construction Projects “competent worker”, in relation to specific work, means a worker who

  • (a) is qualified because of knowledge, training and experience to perform the work,
  • (b) is familiar with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and with the provisions of the regulations that apply to the work, and
  • (c) has knowledge of all potential or actual danger to health or safety in the work.

So these are the requirements employers must follow to ensure worker safety. Other specified requirements are: Worker Health and Safety Awareness in 4 Steps, which is a mandatory requirement, and, see also Ontario Regulation 297/13-Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training for the basics to start.

The scope and requirements for new worker training can be confusing at best so I intend to create a path., albeit winding and meandering. When an employer hires a worker to perform a prescribed task the workers need to be trained prior to working. For starters, workers will possible have records of training, certificates, training cards, previous employment experience that give the new employer an idea of the workers “potential” capabilities.

I say potential because you may have had a training course or session and never applied the training. If you don’t use it, you lose it and if you never did it you never confirmed the training.

I see a lot of workers with general safety awareness with the belief they are trained for that skill and are not. Hoisting and rigging is not a half day course. It is impossible, improbable unlikely and dangerous to believe a worker can be trained with the theory, shown the skill and confirm it repeatedly, safely and with high reliability in four hours. So for a worker to be able to be qualified hoisting and rigging it would be evident that a good deal of time is involved.

There will also have to been different scenarios for training using several different types of equipment. All of the equipment has to be selected, inspected and used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The owner’s manuals and instruction booklets would be a requirement for the training.

Which leads to the next point; owner’s manuals are the training requirement for the use of all equipment. I have mentioned this before with the connection to the regulations. All workers will operate all equipment in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. This has to be part of the training for all workers new to the employer’s workforce.

Is this not the easiest list of training requirements for your worker? Yes, it is the easiest training requirement. What are you using? If it is a ladder, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. This also applies to all equipment from compressors, leaf blowers and hand tools.         The key to this being successful is to hold on to those owner’s manuals, use them in training and refer to them during assembly, inspection and use. Make sure you also document the training based on the owner’s manual.

So with the main part of the training focusing on the owner’s manuals, the regulations must be addressed and with a good eye on the index of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the 213/91 Construction Projects. An employer can hone in on their workers’ requirements from the Act and the Regulations.

The final segment would be the risk assessment for the job scope and the area, which can be done with a JSA, JHA, PSI, SOP or any of the other task assessments and instructions.

            Paul Fooks is Ottawa-based Labor Tek Safety Training Inc.’s head trainer. For more information, visit or phone (613) 741-1128.


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