What is a Competent Person?

Job experience in a particular industry and a proven track record of handling the responsibilities expected is the best measure of competency.

OSHA’s definition of a “Competent Person” varies slightly depending on which standard, preamble to final rule, directive, or standard interpretation it relates to.  This article from NSC’s Safety+Health publication points out some very important considerations regarding an employer’s designation of a “competent person” for various work activities.  The common theme is that no single training course in and of itself can adequately prepare an individual to fulfill the role of this position.

For example, at a minimum, a comprehensive Competent Person training course should provide:

(1)    A high level of understanding of the types of hazards typically encountered in that area of work;
(2)    A solid review of applicable standards relating to that type of work; and,
(3)    A thorough understanding of types of solutions to control or eliminate the hazards.

These are just a few of the capabilities of a Competent Person.  What these courses cannot provide is the job experience gained by years of work in that particular industry and the authority to implement protective measures that only the employer can grant. We encourage you to keep these things in mind when you are preparing your Competent Person for the job duties that he or she will be expected to fulfill.

Download the pdf “What is a Competent Person?”, from the National Safety Council’s Safety+Health publication (July 2012).

About Rescue Talk

Rescue Talk is a group of seasoned rescue professionals and communicators providing relevant content to the rescue community, primarily through Roco Rescue OnLine. Rescue Talk and Roco Rescue OnLine are owned by Roco Rescue, Inc. These assets have been created as a resource for sharing insightful information, news, views and commentary for our students and other rescuers.
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