"Competent vs. Qualified" in 200 Words: EH&S Word Soup

2 employees working in a lab.If you're in the EH&S field, you're probably using hundreds (maybe even thousands) of acronyms on a day-to-day basis. With so much regulatory jargon, it's easy to forget or misuse a word here or there. So here it is. We're giving you a word a week based on your requests in hopes of generating some vocabulary-based discussion in the EH&S community. 

In everyday speech, the words competent and qualified are somewhat interchangeable. You might assume that if someone is qualified then they are also competant without considering the specifics. According to OSHA, competant and qualified are not the same thing. The differences between the two are clearly laid out.

A competent person is capable of identifying and correcting hazards based on experience and/or training. Competency can only be determined by an employer not a third party company. A qualified person possesses a degree, certificate, or professional title and has demontrated through knowledge, training and experiences thay they can solve or resolve problems relating to the subject, work type, or project that they are qualified in.