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Are you the Competent Person or the Complacent Person on the job?

- March 29, 2013 by Steve Danner, CSP (View all posts by Steve)

While touring a jobsite with the foreman, we observed several unsafe conditions and unsafe acts of employees. I then asked him if he was the “competent person” on site. When he said “yes,” in my mind, I envisioned several referees blowing their whistles simultaneously.

If he was the “competent person”, how did he miss the unsafe issues I observed? Is he the competent or complacent person on the job? I wonder.  Let’s explore the definitions and you make the call.

“Competent Person – 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”—California Code of Regulations.

“By way of training and/or experience, a competent person is knowledgeable of applicable standards, is capable of identifying workplace hazards relating to the specific operation, and has the authority to correct them”—U.S. Department of Labor.

Complacent – “marked by self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies”—The Free Dictionary by Farlex.

• Based on your interpretation of these definitions, is this foreman, Competent, Complacent or both?
• Do you have a Competent Person on staff?
• And if so, does he or she meet the California and Federal definition?

“Competent Person.” Osha.gov. Osha.gov, 26 August 2010. Web. 19 March 2013. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/competentperson/index.html

“Subchapter 4. Construction Safety Orders Article 2. Definitions.” Dir.ca.gov. Dir.ca.gov, n.p. Web. 19 March 2013. http://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/1504.html

“Complacent.” Thefreedictionary.com. Thefreedictionary.com, n.p. Web. 19 March 2013.