OSHA defines a competent person as “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 authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them”

A misunderstanding about the competent person on a construction site is that he/she is the person having the most knowledge of the work activity being performed or the person who has attended training. This may not always be the case. Completion of a competent person safety course alone does not necessarily establish an individual as a competent person. The course may not adequately provide comprehensive instruction to meet the knowledge requirement for a specific work activity definition.

Below is a partial listing of OSHA standards that require a competent person to perform specific functions:

  • 1926.20(b)(1) – General safety and health provisions.
  • 1926.101 – Hearing protection.
  • 1926.251 – Rigging equipment for material handling.
  • 1926.451 – Scaffolds – General requirements.
  • 1926.452 – Scaffolds – Training requirements.
  • 1926.500 – Fall protection.
  • 1926.502 – Fall protection systems criteria and practices.
  • 1926.503 – Training requirements.
  • 1926.552 – Material hoists, personnel hoists, and elevators.
  • 1926.650 – Excavation.
  • 1926.651 – Specific excavation requirements.
  • 1926.652 – Requirements for protective systems.
  • 1926.753 – Steel erection – hoisting and rigging.
  • 1926.1053 – Ladders.
  • 1926.1400 – Cranes and derricks in construction.

Competent person violations were part of OSHA’s top 10 most frequently cited serious violations in construction in 2019.

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