The term “competent person” is often used in OSHA standards or OSHA interpretations. OSHA describes a Competent Person as someone with extensive knowledge and training to be able to identify hazards on a job site.
An OSHA Competent Person is defined 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” [29 CFR 1926.32(f)].
It’s important to know that the company or the employer designates who that Competent Person is and the Authorized Person(s) as well. There is a difference and requires a deeper discussion about the difference. Basically, the Competent Person is going to be the person responsible for implementing safety on the job site. Especially if it concerns fall protection, inspection and the hazards around it. The Authorized Person is a worker who has been trained to use fall protection equipment on the job site in association with their work.
An easy comparison is that an Authorized Person wears a Personal Fall Arrest System, and performs the pre-use inspection, while the Competent Person performs the more extensive annual inspection and controls the inspection records.