Here at HeatSpring, we get a lot of questions that are along the lines of… “what course can I take to make me qualified?” To that we answer, there’s no quick fix or single course that can make you qualified (although, we do have several courses to help you get part of the way there).

In OSHA Standard 1926 – Safety and Health Regulations for Construction – Subpart C – General Safety and Health Provisions, qualified means “one who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training, and experience, has successfully demonstrated his [or her] ability to solve or resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project.” 

To break this down for us, HeatSpring instructor Tripper Gawan talks about the concept of a qualified person. Tune into the video or read the transcript below. 

To learn more about safety with Tripper, consider enrolling in his Solar Construction Safety course.

I think I could surmise this with really two key words – education and time. You want to be qualified? It’s going to take those two things. 

The definition of what a qualified person if we take it back to what is a qualified medical practitioner, I want to know that you have the base degree and then are you doing something that’s ear, nose and throat related? Or podiatry related? Or, is it lymphatic related? And you’re working on my immune system like that. So what is it that your focus is on? 

What does qualified mean? Qualified has a varying level of degrees. 

To be a qualified person in my startup solar company – where we’re only doing site surveys – to be qualified there, I’ve got a little bit of expectation, but it’s not the maximum like we were talking about with the first example of how you start a safety program.

Again, it depends on a little bit of the scope. What makes someone qualified is going to slightly differentiate. But ultimately, I believe it does come down to education and time. 

Education. Are there classes they can take? Do you have your own LMS [learning management systems] at your company? Do you have access to an  amazing course curriculum like HeatSpring does? 

What are you doing to help educate your employees step by step? And it does need to be step by step. You can’t – by osmosis – push information into somebody. 

You’ve got to allow time for that information to absorb. It’s a key factor that a lot of companies overlook. I explained that to you already. How many times did you explain it to them? Was this their first introduction? Have they ever had safety before? 

It’s that differentiator between being a regular medical practitioner and a brain surgeon. Don’t expect a regular practitioner to do brain surgery on you. That’s a very specific skill. 

If you’re talking about how to be electrically safe and how to be electrically a qualified person in the world of solar, that’s like the brain surgeon. That person has to know grounding and bonding. They have to know arc flash gear. They have to know how far an arc flash can go. What an arc flash is – that metal projectiles are moving at the speed of sound towards your face – so you probably should do some things to protect those. So how do you get qualified in that? It’s going to take more training and more time.  

For me, it started with OSHA. I got my OSHA 10. It wasn’t the biggest milestone of all time, because I’ve been an EMT, but it increased my education. I got to take all of my lifeguard training, EMT stuff, and wrap it into this construction thing and see how important safety truly is.

A safety situation, going back to lifeguarding, would I rather rescue somebody or would I rather keep somebody from drowning? I would rather keep you from drowning. I don’t want to rescue you and do mouth to mouth on you and all that stuff. That means I did something really wrong.

And I think that’s part of being a qualified person. A qualified person, and what can make them qualified, is the ability to recognize and mitigate the potential for injuries, damage, or safety occurrences to take place. The unqualified person might have some general safety knowledge and be able to do a rescue, but they may not understand the risk mitigation factors. 

Fall protection as an example, if I set up a barrier so people can’t fall off, I don’t need ropes and harnesses because they can’t fall off. It’s just a differentiator between the environment that you’re working in, what potential hazards you can overcome, what tools and techniques you can use to do that, and how you tie all that together.

That’s what really makes somebody qualified – back to the beginning of it – education and time.