4 keys for answering, ‘Who is a competent person?’

by on July 19, 2012 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network

OSHA defines a competent person as, “[One] who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.”

Unlike most mandatory standards, OSHA’s definition of a competent person is a little vague. Here’s some help:

  1. Identify the competent person. At least 15 standards, from materials handling to trenching, require a competent person on site. (The list is here: usa.gov/MqF0Mk.) When OSHA comes on site, they’ll want to know who the competent person is. It’s a good start if you know the answer immediately.
  2. Have documents to back it up. Current certifications help, as does a memo stating the person’s training and experience.
  3. They know the applicable standard. This is crucial. They can’t really be competent if they don’t know the OSHA reg, such as correct scaffold erection. (Consider random testing.)
  4. They have authority. They can require compliance with the applicable standard, and even stop work if it’s not done. No authority means not competent under OSHA’s definition.

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