“Competent Person” Responsibilities
What, Exactly, is OSHA’s Definition of a “Competent Person”
OSHA defines a “Competent Person” as “one who is capable of identifying existing or predictable hazards in surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them. When applied to trenching or excavation operations, the Competent Person must have specific training in, and be knowledgeable about, soil analysis, the use of protective systems, and requirements of the standards.” Note that a Competent Person must be on every job site when workers are exposed in a trench or excavation.
• Authority to stop work – [1926-651(k)(2)].
• Inspections of excavations for indications of possible cave-ins, failure of protective systems, hazardous atmospheres, and other hazardous conditions – [1926.651(k)(1)].
• Inspections should be prior to the start of work, as needed throughout the shift, after rainstorms, and after other hazard-increasing occurrences – [1926.651(k)(1)].
• Testing for hazardous atmospheres when such atmospheres exist or are reasonably likely to exist – [1962.65 1(g)(1)(i)].
• Inspections of material or equipment, if damaged, to determine if usable – [1926.652(d)(3)].
• Monitoring of water removal equipment and operations – [1926.65 1(h)(2)].
• Visual and manual tests of soils to determine type – [1926 Appendix A section (d)(1)(i)-(vii)].
(Links to helpful information on various OSHA directives, enforcement, interpretations, and standards can be found here.)
Any way you look at it, being a Competent Person is a big responsibility.