OSHA safety training for the Competent Person
Why Competent Person Training is Mandatory
The Competent Person is defined in the OSHA construction standards as someone designated by their employer who is capable of identifying hazards in the workplace, and who has the authority to take prompt corrective action to eliminate or control those hazards so workers will not be injured. Therefore, a Competent Person must have the training and experience needed to be able to perform regular inspections of the worksite, and perform other safety-critical activities as needed to ensure compliance with OSHA standards applicable to the work being performed.
The specific knowledge and skills needed to be a Competent Person can vary significantly, depending on which OSHA standard applies to the work being performed. For example, the general safety and health provisions in Subpart C of the OSHA construction rules state that “employers must provide for frequent and regular inspections of the job sites, materials, and equipment to be made by competent persons designated by the employers.”
On some job sites, this might be handled by having an experienced foreman, supervisor, or safety rep who is designated as a competent person take an OSHA 30-hour training course in construction standards to supplement and broaden their knowledge of general hazards and OSHA violations present on the job.
On the other hand, some OSHA construction standards have very specific requirements describing the duties that must be performed by the Competent Person. Those standards include, but are not limited to:
- The OSHA excavation standards;
- The OSHA confined spaces in construction standards;
- The OSHA fall protection standards for construction;
- The OSHA scaffolding standards; and,
- The OSHA electrical standards.
Keep in mind that a designated Competent Person for an excavation site, or who is overseeing confined space entry operations, would not necessarily be qualified to be the Competent Person overseeing the installation of a fall arrest system or scaffolding, and visa-versa. So, employers should have personnel overseeing various types of operations complete specialized training classes or online training courses geared specifically to duties of the Competent Person.