OSHA Competent Person: Ensuring Company-Wide Protection

According to federal regulations, OSHA training is mandatory. It’s also essential for risk management. Companies—including those in electric power industry—need to reduce or eliminate any risks from events that can have a serious impact on your business. It’s vital to identify, assess, and prioritize different forms of risk that your company may encounter. These include injuries, fatalities, electrical fires, and potential lawsuits. As a result, a plan must be implemented to minimize or eliminate any negative impacts. Workers having their OSHA compliance certifications can ensure company-wide protection through their training in the current OSHA regulations.

OSHA competency is necessary and must be maintained. This can be accomplished through OSHA compliance education for your utility and energy employees through a Learning Management System (LMS) that’s easy to launch and maintain for comprehensive worker education.

A Safe Workplace is Sound Business

As an employer, you have to ensure that you have a safe workplace for your employees. It’s sound business. In order to ensure your company is safe across the board, you need to make sure your employees are safe in every aspect of the workplace. After all, accidents can and do happen. The main goal is to prevent occupational injuries and deaths as well as any financial problems that face your workers, their families, and your business.

You need to use a proactive approach to managing your workplace safety. Many times, it isn’t addressed until after the fact. Accidents on the lines or in operating heavy equipment have caused injuries or fatalities. Other cases form when there’s a new OSHA regulation or standard, and if there’s an issue on the worksite, an inspector will find it, resulting in huge fines for the company..

What’s the best way to address issues before they escalate? Training each worker to become an OSHA competent person. A proper approach is to have every worker—new hires, existing workers, and temporary crews alike—train with an LMS to gain their competency certifications.

The Current OSHA Regulations

In order to gain company-wide protection, it’s important to know the OSHA regulations. There are many standards now on the books that are critical for compliance in your utility company. These include, but are not limited to:

29 CFR 1910 regulations:

1910.269 – Electric power, generation, and distribution training

Walking and Working Surfaces

1910.28 – Duty to have fall protection and falling object protection

1910.29 – Fall protection systems and falling object protection—criteria and practices

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

1910.132 – General requirements

1910.133 – Eye and face protection

1910.134 – Respiratory protection

1910.135 – Head protection

1910.136 – Foot protection

1910.137 – Electrical protective equipment

1910.138 – Hand protection

1910.140 – Personal fall protection systems

Design Safety Standards for Electrical Systems

1910.302 – Electric utilization systems

1910.303 – General

1910.304 – Wiring design and protection

1910.305 – Wiring methods, components, and equipment for general use

1910.306 – Specific purpose equipment and installations

1910.307 – Hazardous (classified) locations

1910.308 – Special systems

Safety-Related Work Practices

1910.331 – Scope

1910.332 – Training

1910.333 – Selection and use of work practices

1910.334 – Use of equipment

1910.335 – Safeguards for personnel protection

1910.1200 – Safety-related work practices

Protection on the Job

1926.416 – Electrical general requirements

29 CFR 1926.32f

This OSHA standard dictates the person who is responsible for taking prompt corrective measures on the job site. While originally intended for the construction industry, it also pertains to other industries, including the electric and utility industry.

The OSHA Competent Person

Competencies regarding OSHA regulations are essential and must be maintained to avoid issues such as company litigations and heavy fines. Regulations like 1910.269 that dictate the operation and maintenance of electric power generation, control, transformation, transmission, and distribution lines and equipment along with PPE are vital and must be taught through OSHA training. This is where an LMS can come into play

The best way is to guarantee all new employees gain OSHA standards compliance—if they haven’t already done so—is by completing certification when they first join your company. Ongoing compliance training through continuing education for your existing employees is also mandatory.

Avoiding Penalties

Failure to train your employees can have serious consequences. For example:

  • OSHA cited American Showa, Inc with 13 safety and health violations, including failing to train workers to recognize unsafe electrical work practices. Proposed fines: $151,330.
  • OSHA cited Vienna Beef Ltd for 10 serious safety violations with proposed fines of $53,000 for failing to train and evaluate powered industrial vehicle operators.

In other cases:

  • Precision Production, Inc received 10 serious citations that included failing to develop training programs for training workers in the use and wear of PPE. Proposed penalty: $9,250.
  • Home Depot was issued serious and repeated citations with proposed penalties of $70,500 when it was found that an employee suffered chemical burns due to the lack of appropriate PPE and training for protective equipment.

When your employees are properly trained and certified, you can avoid stiff penalties as well as loss of reputation for not having an OSHA competent person in every member of your workers.

Another Form of OSHA Competent Person

In addition to your employees gaining their mandated OSHA competencies, there’s also another specific designation known specifically as an OSHA competent person.

An OSHA competent person is trained to identify hazards and take measures to correct them, making this a critical role within an electrical utility company.

Based on the OSHA Standard 1926.32(f), an OSHA competent person as an individual who is capable of:

  • Identifying workplace conditions that are hazardous, dangerous, or unsanitary to employees and others on the job site
  • Identifying existing and predictable potential hazards in their surroundings
  • Having authority to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate any hazards

How the Right LMS Can Make OSHA Compliance Education Simple

When it comes down to training your workers, you can use an enterprise-level LMS as a tool for your workers to gain their OSHA competencies.

WestNet Learning features enable companies to easily create an OSHA training program for the mandatory OSHA standards. With its comprehensive support, it enables your workers to learn at their own pace, whether it’s for a new OSHA competent person or already existing employees. Its platform streamlines the educational design process and enables companies to scale training programs easily.

To learn more about how you can increase your workers’ OSHA competencies for complete company-wide protection, feel free to reach out and schedule a 1-on-1 strategy session today!

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