There’s a great article in the May 2021 edition of Safety+Health titled “OSHA Standards and the Competent Person” that’s worth the read. Click here for the digital version. (page 38-39)
If you’ve ever wondered what makes a ‘competent person’ a ‘competent person’, you’ll find that this article does a great job of defining it. The article also addresses what it means to be ‘Qualified’, ‘Certified’, and ‘Authorized’.
These terms are all too often used incorrectly and having a good understanding of each is important. Here’s a summary of the definitions as found in the article:
Competent person: One who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards (by way of training and/or experience) 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” [Reference 29 CFR 1926.32(f)].
Note: Some standards add additional specific requirements which must be met by the competent person (e.g. excavations, scaffolding, fall protection, etc.).
Qualified person: A person who, by education or experience, has successfully demonstrated the ability to solve or resolve problems related to a particular work or subject matter. Examples of qualified individuals are journeymen electricians or journeymen plumbers.
Certified person: An employee who has passed a certification exam from an accredited organization, such as a certified safety professional or certified industrial hygienist.
Authorized person: A person assigned by an employer to perform specific duties or to be at a specific location(s) on a job site.
Safety+Health | May 2021 Digital Version