What Is a Competent Person, and When Are They Required?

Employee safety is crucial for all industries. Companies and industry leaders should always strive to meet or exceed health and safety regulations. Organizations like the United States Occupational Health and Safety Association create and enforce safety standards for employees while in the workplace.

One common OSHA standard is having a competent person on a work site. This person is responsible for identifying potential hazards in working conditions and creating quick solutions to address them.

Read on for an overview of competent persons and how they help workplaces.

OSHA Competent Person Definition

OSHA defines a competent person as someone capable of recognizing and solving hazards in a workplace. The competent person should search for dangerous or unsanitary conditions in all work site areas. If they notice a problem, they have the authority to solve it with quick corrective measures.

A competent person should have sufficient training and knowledge in OSHA standards and regulations surrounding the specific industry they work with. In other words, they should thoroughly understand potential problems and how to eliminate them if they arise.

A competent person has various daily job duties.

  • Conducting daily site inspections: One of a competent person’s foremost responsibilities is daily site inspections. These thorough examinations include site equipment, protective gear and site conditions. Competent persons should perform these inspections before employees begin work to guarantee a safe job environment. An OSHA inspection guideline can provide specific guidance on how to do so.
  • Maintenance examinations: Competent persons can also perform regular maintenance checks for work site equipment. These procedures depend on manufacturer recommendations and other work site policies.
  • Enforcing safety procedures: The competent person should watch safety measures and gear during employees’ shifts. They ensure employees follow the correct safety procedures throughout their shift and can introduce new measures if necessary. A competent person also evaluates support structures and makes sure they’re safe for employees to use.

Many employers hire additional competent persons as precautions in case the original cannot make it to the work site. Employers can bring in more than one competent person, depending on specific areas of expertise. For example, you might employ a competent person for scaffolding and another for fall protection.

Overall, a competent person plays a crucial role in workplace safety.

Competent vs. Qualified Person

You might become confused by the distinction between competent and qualified persons. OSHA uses both terms in their regulations and standards, but the two definitions are similar, leading to confusion. Here is a brief explanation of their differences.

While a competent person is responsible for identifying and solving safety issues, a qualified person has slightly different duties. OSHA defines a qualified person as someone with a degree, certification or another professional status with demonstrated ability to solve related problems to a work site. Like a competent person, they must have extensive knowledge or training in a particular subject matter.

However, a qualified person isn’t responsible for identifying and eliminating hazards. Instead, qualified persons are usually in charge of designing and supervising safety structures or other structures onsite. Unlike competent persons, they don’t have the authority to resolve issues by changing the work site. 

In other words, a qualified person usually designs or engineers work site systems, while a competent person ensures employees use these systems safely. Both roles are crucial for workplace safety, and supervisors must understand the difference.

Industries Requiring or Mentioning Competent Persons

Industries Requiring or Mentioning Competent Persons

OSHA regulations and applicable standards ensure safe workplaces. A competent person’s presence helps keep workplaces safe, even amid potential hazards. Various industries require a competent person on site.

  • General industry: OSHA’s phrase “general industry” refers to any field outside agriculture, maritime and construction. Various aspects of these industries require competent persons. For instance, OSHA standards call for a competent person while using a powered platform, hazardous materials and storage for specific tools. Because the term “general industry” covers such a broad range of jobs, competent persons could be necessary for many applications. Components like stairs and ladders require a competent person during construction.
  • Construction: A competent person should be present on most construction sites. Construction sites have many safety regulations and requirements for employees, and competent persons help enforce them. From the many pieces of heavy equipment to the various safety standards, construction sites need regulations to keep employees safe. Additionally, specific components of construction need competent persons. For example, OSHA states that a competent person must be present to oversee scaffolding jobs. They ensure the site uses the correct materials and techniques to complete the job.
  • Maritime: Lastly, a competent person is also necessary for many aspects of the maritime industry. OSHA standards require a competent person for potentially dangerous environments, such as enclosed spaces. Other ship construction elements, such as surface preparation, scaffolding and welding, also need a competent person for supervision. 

The Importance of a Competent Person

Competent persons are essential on work sites for many reasons, including these. 

  • Improved safety: Employees safety should always be a paramount priority. A competent person ensures a workplace’s tools and environment remain safe for use. They also monitor safety procedures to make sure workers stay protected. A competent person’s knowledge and assistance can reduce accident frequency or other workplace incidents.
  • Legal requirements: Employers need to abide by OSHA standards. You could face significant legal troubles and fines if you violate OSHA regulations. Hiring a competent person for your work site keeps you in line with OSHA standards.
  • Increased efficiency: Competent persons can train other employees in safety matters. Properly trained employees can complete their work efficiently with minimized risk. The more they know about protection, the safer your workplace becomes. In turn, employees can finish projects quickly and safely.
Contact IE for Chicago Area Scaffolding Needs

Contact IE for Chicago Area Scaffolding Needs

Competent persons are essential for many industries, including scaffolding projects. They keep work environments safe and reduce the possibility of accidents. At International Equipment, we understand the necessity of a safe scaffolding environment. We’ve worked on scaffolding projects since 1998 and hold ourselves to the highest safety requirements.

If you’re in the Chicago area and need scaffolding equipment, consider IE today. Our wide range of scaffolding equipment and services can provide swift solutions for your challenges. Whether you require a quick rental or expert industry advice, IE can help your scaffolding project. Our dedication to safety standards and high-quality products set us apart from competitors. 

To get started with IE, contact us today.