MSHA requires a “competent person” for all MSHA Part 46 training at surface mines. You probably know that, and our What Is a MSHA Part 46 Competent Person? article explains that general requirement in more detail if you’re interested.
But what about when a miner completes ONLINE TRAINING for their MSHA Part 46 training requirement? Who’s the competent person then?
And does that answer, about who’s the competent person, differ in various training scenarios? For example, is the answer different if you’re a surface miner who works for a big surface mining company and who completes online training at the worksite than if you’re an independent contractor preparing to come in to work at a surface mine where you’re not a full-time employee?
We’ll answer those questions for you in the article below.
And don’t forget to download our free Guide to MSHA Training Requirements.
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We’re going to break this answer down for you into three different scenarios:
Along the way, we’ll also give you some information about the training plan and the person responsible for safety health, but neither of those are the primary focus of this article (which is about the competent person). Watch for similar articles on those two issues to follow this article.
We’ve already mentioned that we’ve written an entire article that addresses the MSHA Part 46 Competent Person role in a general sense, but as a quick reminder, here’s how the MSHA regulations define the term “competent person” in 46.2:
Competent person means a person designated by the production-operator or independent contractor who has the ability, training, knowledge, or experience to provide training to miners in his or her area of expertise. The competent person must be able both to effectively communicate the training subject to miners and to evaluate whether the training given to miners is effective.
Notice a few key things in this definition:
For more on this, see this MSHA Letter of Interpretation and Guidance.
Now let’s turn to our three specific scenarios to see how this competent person determination works out. Along the way, we’ll briefly mention the training plan and person responsible for safety and health training requirements as well.
Given everything you’ve learned above, you can probably guess the first thing we’re going to say about the competent person for all training, including online training, for a full-time miner employed at a surface mine who’s completing MSHA part 46 training: The surface mine owner-operator specifies who the competent person is for each safety training topic.
If it’s instructor-led training (ILT) or field-based training, it’s probably simple enough to know who the mine owner/operator will choose. The person leading the training–the instructor.
But that same determination is not so obvious for online training. For example, many mine operators assume they should name the company that created or provided the online training to their miners as the competent person. That’s a reasonable assumption, but it’s wrong. Why? Well, for two main reasons. First, because MSHA requires a person, not a company, to be designated on the training plan as a competent person. And second, because MSHA requires that the competent person be available for questions during training. This includes online training. And in most cases, the online training provider doesn’t provide live training support.
Instead, the competent person for online Part 46 training is commonly an employee of the mine, usually the same person who provides the miners instructor-led, classroom-based training, or field-based training.
So that addresses the competent person issue. In addition, in this scenario, the production operator needs to create a training plan and specify a person responsible for safety and health training at the mine. For more information about this, please see our free downloadable Guide to MSHA Part 46 Training.
So to wrap this section up:
Although we all see that a “normal” mining employee at a surface mine is different than a person who works for a company that’s been contracted to send employees to work at a surface mine, MSHA treats these people the same way and imposes the same training requirements on them and on their employers. (For more on this, see our recent free, on-demand recorded webinar about the MSHA Part 46 Training Requirements).
So, the answers to the big question posed by this article and the related questions are the same as well:
What we’re talking about here is a single person owns his/her own company (is the sole proprietor), is the sole employee, and contracts out to work at a surface mine.
In this case, that one person can fill all roles and must complete all responsibilities, as listed below:
Hope that answers your questions. Let us know if we’ve left something unclear, still.
In the meantime, look for specific articles on the issues related to creating the MSHA Part 46 Training Plan and the MSHA Part 46 Person Responsible for Safety and Health Training at the mine.