Competent Worker

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To be “competent” means more than just knowing how to do something. A competent worker or person (these terms are used interchangeably) is someone who the employer deems as qualified because of their knowledge, training, and experience. A competent worker is familiar with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the regulations relating to the work, as well as knowledgeable about the potential or actual hazards of the assigned work.

Knowledge means knowing both what to do, as well as how to do it. Some knowledge is gained through experience and practice, while other kinds are learned through formal and informal education and training.

The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) General Regulations, the Fall Protection Regulations, and the Scaffolding Regulations include many references to competent persons; therefore, a clear understanding of what the term “competent” worker/person encompasses is required.


A competent person means a person who:

  • Is qualified because of that person’s knowledge, training, and experience to do the assigned work in a manner that will ensure the health and safety of persons in the workplace,
  • Is knowledgeable about the provisions of the Act and the regulations that apply to the assigned work, and
  • Is aware of the potential, or actual, danger to health or safety associated with the assigned work.

Employer duties

Throughout the OHS General Regulations are references to duties in which employers have to ensure that specific tasks are completed by “competent” persons/workers. One such example would be Section 33.2 (c) which states that “The employer shall ensure that powered mobile equipment: (c) is operated only by competent persons.”

References to “competent” workers/persons are found in the following sections:

  • Hand Tools and Portable Power Tools
  • Confined Space
  • Explosives
  • First Aid
  • Mechanical Safety
  • Powered Mobile Equipment
  • Hoisting Apparatus
  • Welding
  • Tanks and Vessels
  • Electricity
  • Storage Battery Rooms
  • Asbestos
  • Traffic Control

Other requirements

The Scaffolding Regulations and Fall Protection Regulations also include references to competent persons/workers. For more specific information, please see Scaffolding and Fall Protection topics. It is important to understand that when OHS regulations call for “competent” persons/workers to complete a task, the knowledge and expertise of the person completing that task is as important as is the completion the task, itself.

General Regulations


Section 1.4 Definitions

1.4 In these regulations

(a) "ACGIH" means the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists;

(b) "Act" means the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Cap. O-1.01;

(c) "ANSI" means the American National Standard Institute;

(d) "approved" means any recognized standard or level which is acceptable to the Director;

(e) "CSA" means the Canadian Standards Association (CSA Group);

(f) "competent person" means a person who;

(i) is qualified because of that person's knowledge, training and experience to do the assigned work in a manner that will ensure the health and safety of persons in the workplace, and

(ii) is knowledgeable about the provisions of the Act and the regulations that apply to the assigned work, and about potential or actual danger to health or safety associated with the assigned work.

(g) "ISEA" means the International Safety Equipment Association.

[EC2006-43, s. 2; EC2020-147, s. 3; EC2021-126, s. 1]


Section 9.3 Employer responsibilities

9.3 (1) An employer shall, at the employer's own expense, provide and maintain at each of the employer's workplaces the first aid supplies and services that are required to be so provided and maintained by this Part.

(1.1) Workplace first aid supplies and services shall be readily available and accessible during working hours.

(2) An employer shall assess the risks that workers are likely to encounter at the workplace and ensure that there are adequate first aid supplies and services at the workplace.

(3) The workplace first aid risk assessment shall be conducted by a competent person at the workplace in consultation with the occupational health and safety committee, safety representative, or workers, as applicable.

(4) The workplace first aid risk assessment shall include

(a) the identification of hazards that could result in work-related injury or illness;

(b) an assessment of the type, potential severity, likelihood, and resulting risk of injuries and illnesses which could occur in the workplace taking into consideration

(i) the characteristics of the workplace,

(ii) the number of workers at the workplace per shift,

(iii) industry sector trends,

(iv) the organization’s history of workplace first aid incidents,

(v) the proximity of trained workplace first aiders to provide first aid,

(vi) accessibility to emergency medical services,

(vii) work patterns, such as shift work, workers on shared sites, multi-occupied sites, and planned and unplanned leave of workplace first aiders,

(viii) modes of transportation for transporting injured or ill persons to a medical facility, and

(ix) any special needs including, but not limited to, workers with disabilities or known medical conditions; and

(c) the identification of the appropriate first aid supplies and services to respond to the types of injury or illness that could occur in the workplace.

(5) An employer shall, at least annually and more frequently if required by a change in work conditions, review the workplace first aid risk assessment in consultation with the occupational health and safety committee, safety representative or workers, as applicable.

(6) Where an officer determines that the workplace first aid risk assessment conducted under this Part is not adequate given the particular risks associated within a workplace, the officer may specify additional first aid supplies or services to be provided by the employer.

[EC2012-49, s. 1; EC2021-126, s. 11]


Section 11.3 Threshold limit values

11.3 Where the air of working areas is contaminated by vapours, fumes, gases, mists or other impurities which constitute a hazard to the health or safety of workers, suitable means of ventilation shall be provided by the employer to reduce contamination in the atmosphere at or below the threshold limit values specified by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) in the 2019 edition of the publication "Threshold Limit Values and Biological Exposure Indices", as amended from time to time.

[EC2020-147, s. 5; EC2021-126, s. 3]


Section 13.2 Conditions for entry of confined space

13.2 The employer shall ensure that a worker enters a confined space only where

(a) there is a safe method of access and egress from all parts of the confined space;

(b) mechanical equipment in the confined space is

(i) disconnected from its power source, and

(ii) locked out;

(c) prior to entry

(i) piping containing hazardous substances or substances under pressure or so located as to allow hazardous substances to enter such space is disconnected, blanked or blinded off, or

(ii) where it is impossible to employ blanks or blinds, as in welded piping systems, written work procedures are developed in consultation with (the Division, committee, or representative) and implemented to ensure equivalent protection to all workers exposed to the hazard but the closing of a valve on any line is not an acceptable substitute for blanking or blinding;

(d) the confined space is tested and evaluated by a competent person, properly equipped with personal protective equipment, who

(i) used an approved calibrated instrument that has been functionally tested,

(ii) records the results of each test in a permanent record which is available to an officer,

(iii) certifies in writing in a permanent record that the confined space is free from hazard, and

(iv) specifies the procedures to be followed to ensure that the space remains free of hazard;

(e) ground fault circuit interrupters are used for electrical equipment taken into wet or solidly grounded confined spaces unless battery operated or safety low voltage equipment is used; and

(f) training in emergency procedures is provided for workers assigned to a confined space entry job including the worker stationed outside the confined space.

[EC2021-126, s. 3]

Section 13.3 Hazardous confined space, conditions for entry

13.3 The employer shall ensure that a confined space in which there exists or is likely to exist

(a) a hazardous accumulation of gas, vapour, dust, mist, smoke or fumes; or

(b) an oxygen content of less than 19.5% or more than 23% at atmospheric pressure

is entered only when

(c) the requirements of section 13.2 and clause 13.5(a) are complied with;

(d) the space is purged and ventilated to provide a safe atmosphere; and

(e) provisions for continuous or periodic monitoring have been established to ensure that the hazardous condition does not recur;

(f) another worker is stationed outside the confined space;

(g) the worker entering the space is using such other equipment as is necessary to ensure his safety;

(h) suitable arrangements have been made to remove the worker from the confined space should it be required;

(i) a person adequately trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation is conveniently available;

(j) the worker entering is using a CSA approved breathing apparatus, as specified in section 45.18;

(k) the worker entering the space is wearing an approved safety harness with attached life line that will permit that worker to be removed from the space; if more than one worker is working in the space, steps have been taken to ensure that the life lines do not become entangled;

(l) another worker is stationed outside the confined space and in addition, equipment and persons are available to ensure immediate removal of workers within the space;

(m) all safety equipment to be used in the confined space has been inspected by a competent person and is in good working order.

[EC2021-126, ss. 3, 21]


Section 26.2 Procedures

26.2 Where work is being carried out and explosives are to be used

(a) a competent person shall be appointed to be in charge of and personally present at all blasting operations, and that person shall enforce his orders and directions and shall supervise the fixing of all charges and other blasting operations;

(b) the names of all persons designated to handle, transport, prepare or use dynamite or other high explosives shall be posted in the field office and on or in the magazines;

(c) no person inexperienced in handling dynamite or other high explosives, shall handle, transport, prepare or use dynamite or other high explosives unless the inexperienced person works under the personal supervision of a competent person;

(d) no holes shall be drilled within 3 050 mm (10 ft.) of a hole containing explosives or blasting agents, or within 7 620 mm (25 ft.) of a hole being loaded with explosives or blasting agents;

(e) blasting mats shall be used where necessary to protect persons, structures and other property on or adjacent to the workplace from flying rocks and other objects due to blasting operations.


Section 29.3 Responsibilities of employer

29.3 The employer shall ensure that

(a) workers are competent in the safe handling and use of tools;

(b) workers shall be properly instructed and trained in the safe use of the hand tools they use;

(c) workers are instructed to use tools only for the specific purpose for which they are designed;

(d) workers wear and use protective clothing and equipment as required by these regulations;

(e) procedures are implemented for safely supplying tools and materials to workers located in hazardous places;

(f) hammers, sledges, cold chisels, cutters, pinchers and other similar shock tools are made of carefully selected steel, hard enough to withstand repeated blows without extensive mushrooming but not so hard as to chip or break;

(g) files are provided with substantial metal ferruled handles or other suitable holders and shall not be used without them;

(h) lifting jacks shall be of such construction that the load will remain supported in any position and cannot be lowered inadvertently;

(i) when lifting objects with jacks, the jacks shall be set on solid footing, properly centered for the lift and so placed that they can be operated without obstruction; and

(j) after objects have been raised to the desired height by means of jacks, substantial blocking shall be placed under the object before work is started on the object or before the worker gets under the object.

[EC2021-126, s. 3]


Section 30.7 Servicing

30.7 (1) Where machinery or equipment is shut down for cleaning, maintenance or repairs, the employer shall ensure that no worker carries out work on the machinery or equipment until that worker has

(a) locked out the source of energy using the safety lock and key that the employer must provide under section 30.6; and

(b) put the machine in a zero energy state by ensuring that all

(i) power sources,

(ii) pressurized fluids and air,

(iii) potential mechanical energy,

(iv) accumulators and air surge tanks,

(v) kinetic energy of machine members,

(vi) loose or freely movable machine members, and

(vii) material or workpieces supported, retained or controlled by the machine which can move or cause movement, are

(A) locked out,

(B) vented to the atmosphere,

(C) reduced to atmospheric pressure, or

(D) otherwise acted upon to render the machinery incapable of spontaneous or unexpected action;

(c) put on the control device of the machinery a tag which does not conduct electricity and which contains

(i) words directing persons not to start or operate the machinery,

(ii) the worker's printed name and signature, and

(iii) the date when the tag was put on the machinery.

(2) No worker shall carry out work on machinery or equipment shut down for cleaning, maintenance or repairs until he has complied with subsection (1) and has double checked to ensure that the machinery is inoperative.

(3) No person shall remove a lock-out device or tag except

(a) the worker who installed it; or

(b) in an emergency or where attempts made to contact the worker indicate he is not available, a competent worker designated by the employer, who has first ensured that no person will be endangered by the removal.

(4) On completion of servicing or repairs, the worker shall, before the operation of the machine is resumed, ensure that putting the machinery in motion will not endanger any person.

[EC2021-126, s. 3]


Section 33.2 Responsibilities of employer

33.2 The employer shall ensure that powered mobile equipment:

(a) is maintained in a safe operating condition and that the operation, inspection, repair and maintenance of the equipment, and any necessary modifications to the equipment, are carried out in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions or, in the absence of those instructions, as approved by a professional engineer;

(b) is used exclusively for the purposes for which the equipment is designed and equipped;

(c) is operated only by competent persons.

[EC2021-126, s. 29]


Section 34.5 Maintenance

34.5 (1) The employer shall ensure that hoisting apparatus is maintained in good condition.

(2) The employer shall designate a competent person to thoroughly inspect and test hoisting apparatus including safety devices

(a) before it is first put into use;

(b) once a month;

(c) after any happening involving the hoisting apparatus which could have damaged some part of the apparatus.

(3) The employer shall ensure that a log book recording inspections and repairs is maintained and made available to an officer on request.

Section 34.7 Signals

34.7 (1) The employer shall ensure that the operator of a hoisting apparatus moves a load only on a signal from a signaller designated under this section.

(2) The signaller designated under subsection (1) shall

(a) be identifiable;

(b) govern the movements of a load by a well understood distinctive code of signals or an effective communication system;

(c) obtain the assistance of another competent signaller if part of the view of the load is obstructed from both the signaller and the operator;

(d) ensure that all ropes, chains, slings or other attachments are properly applied to the load and secured to the hooks of the hoisting apparatus and that the area is clear before signalling to move the load.


Section 36.1 Competent

36.1 (1) In this Part "competent" in relation to a person means,

(a) when applied to electrical installations, as defined under the Electrical Inspection Act R.S.P.E.I. 1974, Cap. E-2 and regulations, a person who is the holder of a subsisting license as issued under the Electrical Inspection Act;

(b) when applied to electrical utility linework, a person who is the holder of a subsisting Certificate of Qualification or a Certificate of Proficiency as issued by the Department for the construction or utility lineman trades;

(c) when applied to communications and any other types of work covered by this Part, a person who demonstrates to the Division that he is qualified by knowledge, training and experience to perform an assigned task safely.

(2) "de-energized" in the electrical sense means isolated and grounded.

Section 36.2 Worker qualifications

36.2 The employer shall ensure that a worker shall not work on any energized electrical conductor or equipment unless he is

(a) competent; or

(b) an indentured apprentice under the direct supervision of a competent person.

[EC2021-126, s. 3]

Section 36.3 Communication workers

36.3 The employer shall ensure that when communication workers are required to work on energized electrical utility conductors or equipment, such workers shall be competent as specified in section 36.1.

[EC2021-126, s. 3]


Section 37.11 Inspection of torches

37.11 (1) The employer and worker shall ensure that welding and cutting torches, their fittings and regulators are inspected before use.

(2) Where inspection reveals faults in the equipment mentioned in subsection (1), the employer shall ensure that the equipment is repaired or replaced with approved fittings in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications by a competent person.

(3) The employer and worker shall ensure that the supply of gas is cut off to any part of the welding or cutting operation when a leak develops and that work is not resumed until the leak is repaired.

[EC2021-126, s. 3]

Section 37.15 Procedure

37.15 In order to drain, clean and ventilate the container or pipe, the employer shall ensure that

(a) inlet pipes are disconnected and blocked off or moved out of alignment, or the inlet valves are locked in the closed position;

(b) where residual liquid remains, it is removed by workers located outside the container or pipe;

(c) where steam is available all openings, except the vent pipe and steam inlet, are closed and the steam is blown into the tank for a period of time suitable for the conditions and the nature of the liquid, with the lids and manhole plates open during the last one- fifth time of the steaming period;

(d) where steam is not available, the container or pipe is kept filled with running water for a period of at least 24 hours;

(e) after cleaning, the container or pipe is thoroughly ventilated with forced or induced draft air, for a minimum period of two hours;

(f) the air in the container or pipe is replaced by a non-flammable gas other than exhaust from an internal combustion engine;

(g) after ventilation, a competent person shall examine the interior of the container or pipe to see that it is free from residue and take air samples to ascertain that hazardous vapours have been removed;

(h) where the foregoing tests indicate the presence of hazardous vapours, the steaming or flooding and ventilating operations are repeated.

[EC2021-126, s. 3]


Section 41.11 Fuel storage

41.11 The employer shall ensure that a worker shall store and distribute fuel for a chain saw from an approved safety container.

[EC2021-126, s. 3]


Section 44.1 Charging batteries

44.1 (1) The employer shall ensure that storage batteries that discharge flammable gases are kept electrically charged only in rooms or areas designed for that purpose.

(2) The employer shall ensure that the room or area required by subsection (1)

(a) is adequately ventilated to prevent the accumulation of flammable gases;

(b) is free from all sources of ignition;

(c) is marked at the entrance with a notice prohibiting smoking or open flames;

(d) has a floor of non-sparking material and with adequate drainage;

(e) when storage batteries are mounted in trays or on a rack, has level trays or a level rack constructed or covered with non- sparking material and of sufficient strength to carry the weight of the battery;

(f) has an adequate supply of fresh water for flushing and neutralizing spilled or splashed electrolyte;

(g) has wiring which complies with the CSA Standard C22.1-18, Canadian Electrical Code, Part 1 (24th Edition), Safety Standard for Electrical Installation, for the method of wiring in storage battery rooms;

(h) if equipment is used for hoisting or handling batteries, has equipment of adequate capacity;

(i) is not used for general storage.

(3) The employer shall ensure that

(a) storage batteries are kept clean and free from dust;

(b) vent openings in batteries are kept clear to prevent pressure build up in the battery during storage;

(c) a storage battery is adequately secured;

(d) smoking shall not be allowed in battery storage rooms;

(e) floors in storage battery rooms or areas are washed promptly when spillage occurs;

(f) when a storage battery is of no further use, it is disposed of in a manner which prevents spillage of electrolyte.

(4) The employer shall ensure that only competent persons are permitted to change or charge batteries.

[EC2021-126, s. 38]


Section 49.4 Sampling of asbestos-containing material

49.4 (1) An employer or owner of a workplace shall ensure that a competent person

(a) collects representative samples of any materials in the workplace that the employer or the competent person suspects contain asbestos; and

(b) determines whether each of the samples is asbestos-containing material.

(2) When collecting samples of materials in accordance with clause (1)(a), the competent person shall

(a) wear a negative pressure half face piece respirator;

(b) take all reasonable measures to ensure asbestos fibres are not released during the sampling collection process; and

(c) ensure all bulk samples are submitted to an accredited lab for analysis in accordance with industry standards acceptable to the Director.

(3) If an employer or a competent person suspects that a material contains asbestos, the material shall be treated as asbestos-containing material unless the competent person determines that it is not asbestos-containing material.

[EC596/90, s. 1; EC2020-147, s. 8]

Section 49.5 Inventory

49.5 (1) An employer or owner of a workplace shall Inventory

(a) ensure that a competent person prepares an inventory of asbestos-containing material in the workplace;

(b) ensure that the inventory is updated each time asbestos-containing material is repaired or removed from the workplace;

(c) keep the inventory at the workplace; and

(d) at least annually, ensure that the condition of all asbestos-containing material in the workplace is inspected by a competent person.

(2) The inventory prepared under subsection (1) shall

(a) identify the location of the asbestos-containing material in the workplace;

(b) specify the location of any asbestos-containing material that may release asbestos fibres into the atmosphere due to damage or poor repair;

(c) include the date the inventory was prepared and the subsequent dates of review as required in clause (1)(d);

(d) include the name of the competent person completing the inventory; and

(e) provide a general description of the asbestos-containing material, including the type of asbestos and the percentage of the sample that is comprised of asbestos.

[EC596/90, s. 1; EC2020-147, s. 8]

Section 49.10 Requirements before commencing work

49.10 (1) Before commencing any asbestos work, an asbestos contractor shall provide written notification respecting the asbestos work to the Director, in the form required by the Director and containing the information specified in subsection (2).

(2) The written notification referred to in subsection (1) shall be provided to the Director at least three business days prior to the planned asbestos work, shall be signed by the asbestos contractor or a competent person who is authorized to represent the asbestos contractor, and shall include

(a) a description of the asbestos work to be performed that shows that it is adequately covered by specific procedures in the asbestos work procedure manual submitted under clause 49.9(3)(a) or, if the manual does not contain the necessary procedures, the new procedures developed by the asbestos contractor to accommodate the particular needs of the asbestos work;

(b) the names of the workers who will perform the asbestos work and confirmation that those workers have successfully completed a course in asbestos abatement acceptable to the Director;

(c) confirmation of the name of the competent person who will be supervising the asbestos work and proof satisfactory to the Director that the person is competent to supervise the asbestos work;

(d) confirmation that the workers named in clause (b) have participated in a medical surveillance program acceptable to the Director.

(3) On receipt of the notification required under subsection (1), an officer shall review the notification and may, if satisfied with the information provided, issue a permit to the asbestos contractor to undertake the asbestos work.

(4) The asbestos contractor shall carry out the asbestos work in accordance with the information provided in the notification.

[EC596/90, s. 1; EC2020-147, s. 8]

Section 49.20 General

49.20 (1) An asbestos contractor shall ensure that each enclosure is equipped with a ventilation system for the purpose of asbestos work that is sufficient to ensure that the enclosure is under adequate negative pressure to prevent the release of respirable asbestos fibres into the air outside the enclosure.

(2) If exhaust ventilation equipment is used to contain asbestos fibres, an asbestos contractor shall ensure that the equipment is

(a) of a type designed and solely used for asbestos abatement procedures;

(b) equipped with a HEPA filter;

(c) maintained in good working condition and inspected regularly in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications; and

(d) certified by a competent person not less than once a year as being able to function safely and effectively.

(3) An asbestos contractor shall ensure that the capacity of the ventilation system used in an enclosure is such that the air exchange rate is a minimum of 4 air changes per hour, and the differential pressure is at least 5 Pascals (-0.02 inches) of water.

[EC596/90, s. 1; EC2020-147, s. 8]


Section 50.4 Qualifications

50.4 The employer shall ensure that signallers

(a) are competent persons over the age of sixteen years who have been trained in, and have demonstrated an adequate knowledge of traffic control and signalling procedures;

(b) have such training as the Director may require;

(c) have a thorough knowledge of the regulations contained in this Part;

(d) are in good physical and mental condition;

(e) have adequate eyesight and hearing to carry out their duties;

(f) hold a certificate of training and shall produce proof of training at the request of an officer.

[EC225/91, s. 1]