The actual term Competent Person is used in many OSHA standards, documents and directives, as well as several proprietary and private standards and guidelines.
Though the actual responsibilities of a Competent Person in code varies as they pertain to fall protection, generally, such persons, who often act on the employer’s behalf, must possess the ability to anticipate, protect and prevent injuries and illnesses when applied to actual and specific work performed by themselves and other employees.
In many OSHA standards, competent person too must be able to train employees. It is important to understand that when a regulation mandates the use of a competent person, it is an employer’s obligation to determine the ability of such individuals and designate them accordingly by their knowledge of standards, experience at the task at hand and ability to take corrective action.
Keep in mind that the authority to take corrective action can vary from having the knowledge to make something safe and hazard free to simply not allowing work to be performed, hence preventing employee exposure.
OSHA’s Construction Definition of a Competent Person - 29 CFR 1926.32(f): 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.
OSHA’s General Industry Definition of a Competent Person – 20 CFR 1910.140(b): A person who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in any personal fall protection system or any component of it, as well as in their application and uses with related equipment and who has authorization to take prompt, corrective action to eliminate the identified hazards.