Any construction site in California must have a so-called designated competent person, and a safety inspector could ask anyone on-site to identify that person. What qualifies a person to have this designation? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has no established standards for this, and it is up to the employer to choose an employee to play that role to prevent industrial or construction workers’ accidents

The presence of a competent person is required on sites at which scaffolding, excavations, hazardous materials, machine guarding, electrical work and other dangerous jobs are done. That person is expected to have a level of knowledge, experience and skills that will enable him or her to identify potential severe injury or fatality risks. Furthermore, the individual must have the authority to implement the necessary actions to mitigate the hazards.

OSHA makes a distinction, for safety purposes, between a qualified person and a competent one. Having a professional standing or recognized degrees or certificates along with experience, knowledge and training certainly makes an individual qualified, but they do not automatically provide the competence necessary to identify and rectify hazards. The distinction is that a competent person also has the authority and wherewithal to initiate corrective action when necessary. Many injuries can be prevented and lives saved if each employer ensures the presence of a competent person on-site.

Unfortunately, many trench or scaffold collapses and other catastrophic construction workers’ accidents occur in California due to unmitigated hazards. Injured victims and the surviving family members of those who lose their lives in work-related incidents can file claims for financial assistance. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help with the process to obtain benefits to cover medical or end-of-life expenses, along with a portion of lost wages.