The title of this post is not meant to be a slight against an employee at your organization, but rather to shed some light on a topic that is often misunderstood.
What Is A Competent Person?
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. The key words here are capable of identifying and authorization to correct.
Does An OSHA 10 Hour Card Equal Competent?
Some are under the impression that an OSHA 10 or 30 hour card in and of itself qualifies you to be a competent person- that is not necessarily correct. One must have experience and or training as well as be authorized by the employer as a competent person.
A 10 hour construction card (awareness level hazard training) does not in and of itself make one a competent person. For example, lets say you have scaffolding on your site, and it needs to be inspected, who’s qualified to do this?
To inspect scaffolding, a 10 hour card may be adequate if you have background and experience & scaffolding competent person training as well as being authorized by your employer.
What Can Trade Contractors Do?
Ensure that you designate someone that is both experienced and knowledgeable, as well has some training in the particular area in which you are designating them competent in. Some questions that you might ask yourself include:
1. Do they know relevant OSHA requirements?
2. Do they know how to apply their knowledge in the field to specific tasks?
3. Do they have some training in the area and is it more than OSHA 10 or 30?
4. Are your competent people aware that they have been designated your competent person?
5. Did you specifically inform them that they have the ability to stop work on your company’s behalf?
6. Do you/they realize that there may be multiple competent people on the job based upon the work being performed?
7. Do you document, for your site specific safety plan, who your competent people are?
What Can Owner, GC or CM do?
1. Ensure that you get the trade contractors on site to document who their competent persons are.
2. Ensure that the competent person is competent by asking some of the questions above.
Remember, having a competent, competent person on your job site, is a critical part in your injury-liability prevention and your OSHA compliance process so make sure that your competent person is COMPETENT!