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Who is responsible for providing fall protection?

“The employer shall provide a training program for each employee who might be exposed to fall hazards. The program shall enable each employee to recognize the hazards of falling and shall train each employee in the procedures to be followed in order to minimize these hazards.” 1926.503(a)(1)

“The employer shall provide a training program for each employee who might be exposed to fall hazards. The program shall enable each employee to recognize the hazards of falling and shall train each employee in the procedures to be followed in order to minimize these hazards.” 1926.503(a)(1)

The employer ultimately has the burden on their shoulders for providing this because individual workers who are not compliant currently do not get fined by OSHA. It is the employer who incurs the fines and violations. The employer should make sure that the employees are properly trained on fall protection equipment and the scenarios in which to use what equipment.

Understanding the role and function of different onsite personnel

It’s important for employees to recognize who other people are on the job site. When it comes to fall protection, OSHA talks about Authorized Persons, Competent Persons and Qualified Persons. The designation of an Authorized Person and Competent Person is going to be determined by the employer.

The Authorized Person

Generally, an Authorized Person is an employee who is performing tasks or duties and has been trained on the safety hazards of the site, understands actions to take when presented with a hazard, and has been trained on the specific duties for that job. Most people fall under this category. An Authorized Person is likely the Safety Manager or the Site Safety Contact. 

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.”

The Competent Person

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.

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.

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