The term “competent person” is often used in OSHA standards or OSHA interpretations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (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 persons as well. There is a difference between the two. A Competent Person is going to be the person responsible for the safety on the job site. The authorized person is a worker who has been trained to use fall protection equipment on the job site in association with their work.
Education is key and unlocks a lot of things such as what gear to use in each situation, how can I eliminate the fall hazard, how can I reduce the risks, how can I work in fall restraint, then in fall arrest. Most basic classes can teach you this information, but you must have a Competent Person to keep the records and perform the inspections.
When it comes to training your team on safety and fall protection there are some regulations to keep in mind. OSHA considers any worker who is trained and able to be working at heights on the job site as an Authorized Person. There are several ways to get trained to become an Authorized Person.
OSHA has listed five places to start when conducting a job safety analysis. A more in depth explanation of each one can be found by clicking the link.
According to the OSHA website, the actual definition of an Authorized person in section 1926.32 (d) is “a person approved or assigned by the employer to perform a specific type of duty or duties or to be at a specific location or locations at the jobsite.”
To be an Authorized Person, the employee needs to be trained on the equipment that is being used such as harnesses, self-retracting lifelines and anchors. All employees need to be trained on the proper usage of them and how to conduct a daily pre-use inspection on the equipment. Employees are required to be an Authorized Person by OSHA when working at heights.
You also need to get your authorized persons training on how to use personal protection equipment (ppe) and how to work to prevent fall hazards.
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.
An important thing to do at the beginning of every job site is a job safety analysis. Job safety analysis takes into consideration every hazard on the site. Slips, trips, falls, cut hazards, environmental concerns and more. Your job safety analysis helps determine what PPE and safe practices will be needed to perform work safely.
OSHA states in a series of standard numbers who is responsible for providing PPE and why. 1910.132(f)(1) The employer shall provide training to each employee who is required by this section to use PPE. Each such employee shall be trained to know at least the following:
If you’re a trained safety professional you should have experience with job safety analysis. If you are inexperienced with the analysis and are trying to keep your crew safe, your company compliant and your job going, there are templates for purchase or free. There are also reputable safety trainers that you can hire.
Proper maintenance and inspection of your safety equipment is key to ensuring your workers remain safe on the job. Routine inspections are an important part of ppe management. Malta Dynamics provides a free, printable inspection form for most of your ppe. To get the fall protection inspection forms, click here.
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