What is an OSHA Competent Person?

What is a Competent Person?

The term competent person appears in many OSHA standards.  29 CFR 1926.32(f) states a “Competent person means one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions that are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees and who has the authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.”  

Who is capable?

First, we need to understand two terms as defined by OSHA.

“Qualified,” which means that, by education or experience, an employee has demonstrated the ability to solve problems relating to a particular job.

“Certified,” which means an employee has passed certification exams from an accredited organization for the work they’re going to perform.

By way of training and/or experience, a competent person is knowledgeable of applicable standards and can identify workplace hazards relating to the specific work.

What training or experience is needed?

Ideally, the competent person has training and experience.  The knowledge can be gained from years of working, is self-taught, has manufactures training, and knows the requirements of the OSHA standard for which they are assigned as a competent person.  This may be a frontline supervisor with ten or more years of experience or a professional engineer.

Who has authorization?

“Authorized,” which means the employer has approved or assigned an employee to perform a specific duty or be in a specific area.  A competent person has the authority to stop work to ensure the work area is safe.

When Is a Competent Person Needed?

A competent is required for specific work types and under specific conditions detailed in the OSHA regulations.  Generally, a competent person must inspect the work area or specific equipment or conditions before work begins.

What specific OSHA standards require a competent person?

Two standards are specifically dedicated to a competent person.  Maritime (29 CFR 1915, 1917, 1918) 1915.7, Competent person and Gear Certification (29 CFR 1919) 1919.37.  However, there are over 120 individual standards that require a competent person.  This does not include the 28 OSHA-approved State Plans, which are required to standards and enforcement programs that are at least as effective as federal OSHA requirements.  In many cases, state programs are more stringent than federal regulations.  Need help reading the standards?  Check out my article and accompanying video, How to Read an OSHA Standard.

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OSHA Standards Requiring a Competent Person

General Industry (29 CFR 1910)

1910 Subpart F – Powered Platforms, Manlifts, and Vehicle-Mounted Work Platforms

1910.66, Powered platforms for building maintenance.

1910 Subpart H – Hazardous Materials

1910.109, Explosives and blasting agents.

1910 Subpart N – Materials Handling and Storage

1910.183, Helicopters.

1910.184, Slings.

1910 Subpart R – Special Industries

1910.268, Telecommunications.

Maritime (29 CFR 1915, 1917, 1918)

1915 Subpart A-General Provisions

1915.3, Responsibility.

1915.4, Definitions.

1915.7, Competent person.

1915 Subpart B – Confined and Enclosed Spaces and Other Dangerous Atmospheres in Shipyard Employment

1915.11, Scope, application, and definitions applicable to this subpart.

1915.12, Precautions and the order of testing before entering confined and enclosed spaces and other dangerous atmospheres.

1915.13, Cleaning and other cold work.

1915.14, Hot Work.

1915.15, Maintenance of safe conditions.

1915 Subpart C – Surface Preparation and Preservation

1915.35, Painting.

1915.36, Flammable liquids.

1915 Subpart D

1915.53, Welding, cutting, and heating in way of preservative coatings.

1915.54, Welding, cutting, and heating of hollow metal containers and structures not covered by § 1915.12.

1915.57, Uses of fissionable material in ship repairing and shipbuilding.

1915 Subpart E

1915.71, Scaffolds or staging.

1915 Subpart G – Gear and Equipment for Rigging and Materials Handling

1915.117, Qualifications of operators.

1915 Subpart H – Tools and Related Equipment

1915.135, Powder actuated fastening tools.

1915.136, Internal combustion engines, other than ship’s equipment.

1915 Subpart K – Portable, Unfired Pressure Vessels, Drums and Containers, Other Than Ship’s Equipment

1915.172, Portable air receivers and other unfired pressure vessels.

1915 Subpart Z – Toxic and Hazardous Substances

1915.1001, Asbestos.

1918 Subpart B – Gear Certification

1918.11, Gear certification (See also §§1918.2, definition of “Vessel’s cargo handling gear” and 1918.51).

1918 Subpart J – Personal Protective Equipment

1918.105, Other protective measures.

Gear Certification (29 CFR 1919)

1919 Subpart A-General Provisions

1919.2, Definition of terms.

1919 Subpart E – Certification of Vessels: Tests and Proof Loads; Heat Treatment; Competent Persons

1919.26, Visual inspection before tests.

1919.27, Unit proof tests-winches, derricks, and gear accessory thereto.

1919.28, Unit proof tests-cranes and gear accessory thereto.

1919.29, Limitations on safe working loads and proof loads.

1919.30, Examinations subsequent to unit tests.

1919.31, Proof tests-loose gear.

1919.32, Specially designed blocks and components.

1919.33, Proof tests-wire rope.

1919.34, Proof tests after repairs or alterations.

1919.35, Order of tests.

1919.36, Heat treatment.

1919.37, Competent persons.

Construction (29 CFR 1926)

1926 Subpart C – General Safety and Health Provisions

1926.20, General safety and health provisions.

1926.32, Definitions.

1926 Subpart D

1926.53, Ionizing radiation.

1926.62, Lead.

1926 Subpart E – Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment

1926.101, Hearing protection.

1926 Subpart H – Materials Handling, Storage, Use, and Disposal

1926.251, Rigging equipment for material handling.

1926 Subpart J – Welding and Cutting

1926.354, Welding, cutting, and heating in way of preservative coatings.

1926 Subpart K – Electrical

1926.404, Wiring design and protection.

1926 Subpart L – Scaffolds

1926.450, Scope, application, and definitions applicable to this subpart.

1926.451, General requirements.

1926.454, Training requirements.

1926 Subpart M

1926.500, Scope, application, and definitions applicable to this subpart.

1926.502, Fall protection systems criteria and practices.

1926.503, Training requirements.

1926 Subpart N

1926.550, Reserved.  Federal Register, 75 FR 48134

1926.552, Material hoists, personnel hoists, and elevators.

1926 Subpart P

1926.650, Scope, application, and definitions applicable to this subpart.

1926.651, Specific Excavation Requirements.

1926.652, Requirements for protective systems.

1926 Subpart Q

1926.705, Requirements for lift-slab construction operations.

1926 Subpart R

1926.751, Definitions.

1926.752, Site layout, site-specific erection plan, and construction sequence.

1926.753, Hoisting and rigging.

1926.754, Structural steel assembly.

1926 Subpart S

1926.800, Underground Construction

1926.803, Compressed air.

1926 Subpart T

1926.850, Preparatory operations.

1926.852, Chutes.

1926.859, Mechanical demolition.

1926 Subpart U

1926.900, General provisions.

1926 Subpart X – Stairways and Ladders

1926.1053, Ladders.

1926.1060, Training requirements.

1926 Subpart Z – Toxic and Hazardous Substances

1926.1101, Asbestos.

1926.1127, Cadmium.

1926 Subpart CC – Cranes and Derricks in Construction

1926.1401, Definitions.

1926.1404, Assembly/Disassembly—general requirements (applies to all assembly and disassembly operations).

1926.1412, Inspections.

1926.1413, Wire rope—inspection.

1926.1417, Operation.

1926.1423, Fall protection.

1926.1430, training.

1926.1431, Hoisting personnel.

1926.1432, Multiple-crane/derrick lifts—supplemental requirements.

1926.1435, Tower cranes.

1926.1436, Derricks.

1926.1437, Floating cranes/derricks and land cranes/derricks on barges.