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Boots on the Ground: Who’s Your Competent Person?
By Scott Schneider
Most construction sites do not have full time safety people. Oftentimes, safety professionals working for contractors are responsible for several sites, and they may not get to any one site more than once a week.
“Contractors need eyes and ears on every worksite to make sure work is done safely,” says LIUNA General President Terence M. O’Sullivan. “While most signatory contractors comply with OSHA rules and our members speak up when safety concerns arise, it is often helpful – and in many cases required – to designate a knowledgeable, conscientious workers as the competent persons, giving them the authority to correct the hazards and, if necessary, stop the job until they’re fixed.”
Nineteen OSHA standards require a designated competent person, including scaffold erection, trenching, asbestos work and crane operations. According to O’Sullivan, “The duties of competent persons ensue they have the most critical responsibilities on any jobsite.”
Do you know all the operations that require a competent person and what these leaders are expected to know and do? If not, the LHSFNA’s new publication, Laborers’ Guide to Competent Persons, has the answers. This short booklet summarizes all OSHA construction standards requirements, identifying the duties of competent persons, what they need to know and when they may need to stop work. The handy reference also explains contractor obligations under these rules. “If each employer takes these requirements to heart, appoints competent persons at each site for each task and gives them the authority they need,” says O’Sullivan, “construction safety will take a giant leap forward.”
Copies of the booklet can be ordered by LIUNA members and signatory contractors through the Fund’s online publications catalogue. OSHA’s full, standard-by-standard competent person requirements are available at the OSHA website.
[Scott Schneider is the LHSFNA’s Director of Occupational Safety and Health.]