Personnel Requirement Basics- Competent Persons
An EM 385 1-1 Compliance Article
If you have been in the industry for any length of time as we have here at GovGig, you have likely heard the term Competent Person (CP) applied to a variety of areas such as excavation work, scaffolding, or fall protection. Competent Person is a regulatory term established by OSHA, and utilized throughout the EM 385 1-1 manual and is defined thus:
"One 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 the authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them (29 CFR 1926.32(f)."
While there may not be a specific regulatory standard relating to appointing Competent Persons for your company, this role is a vital part of project planning and safe project execution. A CP is an important part of ensuring that work is assessed for relevant risk, that controls are established to minimize these risks to their lowest acceptable level, and that work is performed in a manner free from recognized hazards that can harm our employees.
You as the employer are responsible for establishing this role, and in terms of working on Federal contracts, responsible for, in some cases, providing the qualifications necessary to establish competency. The Federal Government wants to ensure that the person overseeing hazardous work is uniquely qualified to assess this work for hazards and to develop controls to protect the employer’s workforce.
Under EM 385 1-1, a CP will be required to be appointed for work in the following areas:
· Performing frequent safety inspections/audits (01.A.13.a)
· Employee Indoctrination and Training ((01.B.01)
· Hazardous or toxic agents or environments (06.A.02)
· Working with Lead and Asbestos (06.C.02.g)
· Fall Protection (21.B.03)
· Cranes and Rigging (15.A.01.a / 16.A.02.a)
· Scaffolding (22.B.01.e)
· Demolition (23.A.11)
· Excavation and Trenching (25.A.01)
· Confined Space Entry (34.A.04)
(NOTE: This is not an all-inclusive list. Be sure to coordinate with your GDA should you have questions regarding which specific tasks require establishing a CP)
Remember that there may be specific requirements relating to the establishment of Competent Persons (such as with Fall Protection where specific qualifications will need to be submitted prior to beginning work). Be familiar with the requirements in each area of scope in which you may be working, and coordinate with your GDA should you have questions as to what is required.
From a basic standpoint, the employer-established CP is broken down into three specific areas:
1. Knowledge, training, experience- As Competent Persons are appointed to manage hazardous work tasks that have the potential to greatly injure or kill workers, it is essential that they have the knowledge, training, and experience to be able to assess the work tasks being performed, and to ensure that control measures are established to protect workers from harm. This knowledge, training, and experience will be crucial as work is planned, the AHA is developed, and safe work controls are established and verified.
2. Authority- This requirement is essential. The person who has been appointed as the CP for a hazardous task MUST have the authority to take prompt action in the event of non-compliance or should hazards be identified. As such, a general laborer for instance typically would not be assigned as the Crane and Rigging competent person regardless of experience level as this task is outside of their scope of work and in most cases would not have the authority to take prompt corrective action in their respective role to mitigate risk. Assess who would best fill this role in your organization as having this authority is mandatory.
3. Documentation- Be prepared to provide competency documentation for each of the CPs you have appointed. This may include a combination of years of experience in the field of expertise, specific training certificates (such as the 24-hour Fall Protection Competent Person Certificate required for operations where work at heights is performed), or testable knowledge through degrees or professional certifications. Although not required, it is recommended that a carefully crafted and focused resume be developed for each person in this role and that experience, training, and knowledge be clearly lined out.
The professionals here at GovGig understand the challenges that come with working in Federal Construction. Federal Construction requirements can at times be daunting as we work to meet the expectations and requirements established by the Federal Government. Please reach out to us should you need assistance navigating these requirements or should you have challenges or concerns that you are struggling to address. We are here to help as we aim to build our future infrastructure with project success and worker safety in mind.
Cory J. Grimmer, CSP, CHST
Health & Safety Consultant, SSHO