Achieving the Competent Person Designation under OSHA

John J. Meola

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OSHA was born in 1972, as part of the US Department of Labor, during the administration of President Richard Nixon. The operative term in the OSHA is OCCUPATIONAL – meaning the various safety and health rules ostensibly apply only at WORK, that is, on the job, in the workplace.

OSHA Standards are generally not particularly complex. It is more or less acknowledged that “we need to get these guys to work”, and the amount of safety ‘training’ associated with most of the OSHA disciplines (i.e. fall protection, silica dust, etc.) is fairly succinct. In other words, the level of general employee training is relatively modest.

In the eyes of OSHA, the requirement for “compliance” with their Standards is squarely placed upon the “EMPLOYER”.

In some cases, (about 20+) where an OSHA Standard has a few more ‘moving parts’, and is a bit more complex than normal, OSHA will ask that an ‘employee’ receive additional training in the technical details of that Standard. This additional training establishes them as a ‘Competent Person’.

It is important to understand, the Competency is Discipline Specific. It is not a ‘blanket’ designation.

This Competent person can be a Supervisor, a Lead Person, a Working Forman, or any other employee who can understand the technical details of the specific Standard and apply them in the workplace.

The implication of ‘Competency’ is that the individual has:

·Received a higher level of technical training from the employer on the intricacies of the particular Standard

·Is capable of identifying “existing or predictable” hazards in the workplace

·Understands the definitions and terminology related to the Standard

·Has the comprehension and vocabulary sufficient to interpret and explain these details to co-workers

·Has been given the authority from the employer to STOP work if an unsafe situation arises

·Has the authority and ability to make corrections, improvements, take preventive measures, etc.

· Notice that the word ‘Enforcement’ does not appear in this list. This is because enforcement typically means discipline. And that is the sole province of the employer (management)

Why should you attend?

Most organizations, even some fairly large and sophisticated ones, fail to get this issue of ‘Competency’ correctly delineated. The term gets thrown around quite randomly, and the truth is, it’s generally not a big deal.

However, if there is a serious incident, an inspection, an audit, a complaint, or any number of other causes for an intervention by OSHA (or the local State Plan), this small detail could be called into question.

This webinar is designed to address the understanding and application of the OSHA Competent Person designation, in accordance with discipline specific requirements.

Multiple examples will be reviewed, such as Fall Protection; Silica Dust, Trench & Excavation; Respiratory Protection, etc.

Additionally, we will review the OSHA Focus Four and how this should fit into the Competency training.

We will also review the OSHA Hierarchy of Controls, which should form a part of the Competency learning module.

The webinar discussion will cover real-life examples and offer insights into how you can achieve a robust and resilient compliance posture, with Competent Person designation forming an important element in your overall Health & Safety Program.

One of the first things an OSHA Inspector will ask when arriving on a site for any type of inspection or investigation is “ Who is your ‘Competent Person’, and can I have a chat with that person in private?”

In most instances, the OSHA person can ask a wide range of questions pertaining to your safety program and about the specifics of an incident, complaint, or just a plain ole’ walk around General Schedule Inspection. Whichever it is, you will have a much better chance of getting a passing score if you at least understand the rules of the game, which is what this webinar intends to cover.

For example, we will deconstruct this phrase below, which comes from OSHA itself. There are some key words and phrases that are worth reviewing in detail. 

The OSHA Construction Standard defines a competent person as someone who is:

§  capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards 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.

§  Authorized by the employer to STOP WORK if an uncontrolled hazard occurs.

We will also compare the Competency description and requirements from the US Army Corp of Engineers, Engineering Manual 385. This document is frequently referenced in military and government construction activity. There are numerous cross-references between these documents which we will examine, with the intent of understanding the concept and goal of the process.


Areas Covered in the Session :

The following are a representative selection of the individual OSHA Standards that require a Competent Person or their equivalent. We will discuss the common elements applicable to each type of Competency.

·Silica Dust Control

·Hazardous Materials (HazMat) specifically Blasting agents TNT and similar explosive materials. Presumably to include Ammonium Nitrate 1910

·Mobile Work Elevating Platforms - MWEP/ other; Scissor Lifts, JLG man lifts, etc.

·Staging/Scaffolding: assembly, inspection, modifications. Etc.

·Trench & Excavation

· Rigging- hand or other signals; ‘Qualified Evaluator’

o   Other specialty – helicopter lifting

o   Use of slings and specialty rigging

o   1919 Sub Part E Maritime – Longshoring ‘ (Lifting) Gear Certification’ cables, slings,

· OSHA Focus Four – essential learning element

· Electrical – Arc Flash;

· Hot Work: certain aspects

· Confined Space – All industries - – other designations and defined roles and responsibilities apply

· Fall Protection – all industries. We will use this discipline as a focus point example in our discussion, since it has wide applicability.

· Respiratory Protection – requires a “Suitably trained administrator”

· Steel Erection (You actually should have an engineer in this picture)

· Maritime Standards: 1915, 1917, 1918 (Marine Chemist)

· And others OSHA Standards as applicable.


Who will benefit: 

Practically anyone associated with business or organization management:

·Business Owners

·CEO’s; COO’s; CFO’s

·Safety Managers

·Safety Engineers

·Safety Technicians

·Project Managers

·Project Superintendents

·Supervisors, Foremen; General Foremen, Superintendents; Lead Persons, Working Foremen

·Human Resource Managers and Administrators

·Plant Managers & Supervisors

· Loss Control Representatives

· State, County & Municipal Managers

· University Administrators & Safety Officers

· Risk Managers

·Insurance Managers; Claim Investigators, Managers & Adjusters

·Personal Injury Attorneys


·Compliance Managers

·Self-Directed Work Crews

Webinar Events
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Training CD-DVD

Physical CD-DVD of recorded session will be despatched after 72 hrs on completion of payment

Recorded video

Recorded video session

Speaker: John J. Meola, Safety Director, Pillar, Inc.

John J. Meola, CSP, ARM is the Safety Director for Pillar, Inc. based in Richmond, VA.

He is also an Instructor at the VA Commonwealth University, School of Business, Risk Management and Insurance Department and an OSHA 500 Community Outreach Construction Safety Trainer. He has authored two safety handbooks and contributes numerous technical safety articles for trade industry publications.

Mr. Meola is also an Executive Officer with the Colonial VA Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers and a Past-President of this Chapter. He works closely with clients from private industry to develop and manage employee safety and health issues across a wide range of businesses.

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